Updated 9:40 a.m. - Executive branch economists told legislators this morning that state revenues for the current 2011-12 year are projected to be $231 million higher than was predicted in September.
State budget director Henry Sobanet told the Joint Budget Committee and other lawmakers that the increase would allow giving schools an extra $22 million this year for enrollment increases and eliminate the need for an $89 million cut in 2012-13.
But school districts could still see cuts on a per-pupil basis because enrollment growth is forecast to grow 1.2 percent in 2012-13.
Sobanet also said higher revenues mean it will be possible to avoid a $30 million cut in the state’s $100 million student financial aid program. And he said the state should be able to put money into the State Education Fund, which is used to supplement school funding.
Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, told EdNews the forecast means “We’re going to push very hard” to reduce K-12 cuts in 2012-13. Massey, chair of the House Education Committee, led efforts to reduce school cuts in the current budget and is expected to be a central figure on education issues during the 2012 session.
The December forecast from legislative economists also projected revenues higher than they predicted three months ago.
The legislature will have the final say on the 2012-13 budget. But if lawmakers take Sobanet’s suggestion, it would be the first time in several years that school districts would get a mid-year adjustment for enrollment increases and the first time base school funding remained stable.
Check EdNews later for expanded coverage of the December forecasts, and of Hickenlooper’s afternoon news conference.
Voters in the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 were among the few that said “yes” to a tax increase last month and now, according to the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the district will wait until after the first of the year to decide how to prioritize use of the new revenue. District voters approved in November an additional $4.8 million annually in local property tax dollars to offset recent cuts in state per-pupil funding, which has totaled about $5.2 million over the past two years. Story