House R’s: rob from poor school districts to cover cuts for wealthy school districts

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Looks like the Republican lawmakers finally started to hear from their constituents during this recess. So much so that even House Speaker Batchhelder isn’t happy with the school funding model in Governor Kasich’s budget and in the impact it has on high wealth school districts.

Batchelder said. “I have a suburban delegation, so, no, we are not happy with it.”

Some Republicans from suburban districts that are receiving deep cuts in school funding are looking to change the funding model. The Plain Dealer is reporting that Representative Nan Baker’s (R-Westlake) proposal to cap cuts in funding at 20% for any one school district is being seriously considered by the House Republican Caucus. House Finance Chair Amstutz called it an “excellent amendment” that is “well conceived”. Which is kind of funny considering Governor Kasich said that no district receives a cut of over 8% in his budget but for some reason House Republicans are having to consider an amendment to cap cuts at 20%. I guess that is nether here nor there, though.

According to sources in the article, by capping the amount of cuts per school district at 20% this creates a hole of $114 million in the state budget.  And how exactly to House Republicans fill the gap? Simple, by taking the small increases that low property wealth school districts receive in this budget and giving it to the high property wealth school districts.

If this sounds like a bad idea to you, you are not alone.  Tim Keen, the Governor’s own Director of OBM also thinks this is a poor idea, so much so, that this is exactly what he didn’t want to do when he created the formula the first time.

Kasich’s budget director, Tim Keen, said the administration considered a loss cap similar to the change that Baker is seeking but decided against it. “At any given funding level, a cap on the losses for rich districts causes a greater reduction to the lower-wealth districts,” Keen said.

It makes sense that lawmakers are concerned about the cuts planned for their respective school districts.  Representatives like going back to their districts and touting the amount of funds or projects they have been able to bring to the district and state funding for education makes up a lot of it. It is only natural that they would want to find ways to limit the damage done to their school districts but simply taking money away from low property wealth districts, who are going to be hurt proportionally more by this action, is the least fair, and most uncreative option. Director Keen and OBM already weighed districts’ reliance on state funding in the original funding and now Rep. Baker and her House Republican colleagues are simply ignoring this balance and stealing from the districts that need it the most to cover losses for high property wealth districts.

Of course, there is another option here that Anthony Podojil, executive director for the Alliance for Quality Educaiton, offers up.

“We can’t take from the low wealth to give to the high wealth to even out the formula–that’s not going to be acceptable,” Podojil said. “It’s better to find the dollars to bring the outliers back in.”

Yep, that’s right, finding more revenue.  Considering this Governor supports gutting the income tax, the estate tax, and even coming out against localities who will have to go to the ballots with new levies, there is a snow ball chance in hell of this happening.  With those options not even been considered, it is very likely we will see House Republicans robbing low wealth districts to give to their own home high wealth districts in the next version of this budget.


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