Oh no, not again!
Here we go again. Today, just as has happened the last few months, school superintendents received our latest notice that our state aid checks would be short.
Based on available funds, the State Aid formula payment for the month of April will be paid at the accumulative amount of 79 percent instead of the scheduled 81 percent of the current adjusted allocation. Revenue collections for the April State Aid payment are approximately $36.3 million short of the funds needed to make the scheduled 81 percent payment. The accumulative percentage of 79 percent includes the total amount short for this fiscal year updated for cash received through April. The cash flow shortage of $36.3 million for the April payment supersedes the $18.9 million for the March payment.
The April payment, available to districts on Thursday, April 13, is based on funds collected as of April 11, 2017. To calculate your payment, use the most current adjusted allocation times accumulated percentage minus paid to date to equal the amount of payment. The amount of funds collected as of April 11, 2017, is presented below.
- Education Reform Revolving Fund (1017) Adjusted for Revenue Shortfall has collected 72.13 percent of the Adjusted Appropriated $657,802,801
- Common Education Technology Fund has collected 77.35 percent of the Appropriated $41,168,478
- FY17 Mineral Leasing Fund has collected 52.57 percent of the Appropriated $3,610,000
- General Revenue Adjusted Revenue Failure has collected 82.05 percent of the Adjusted Appropriated $1,027,324,288.95
- FY17 OK Lottery Fund has collected 85.08 percent of the Appropriated $23,397,757
Your Notice of Payment report can be found under Payment Notices in Single Sign On at https://sdeweb01.sde.ok.gov/SSO2/Signin.aspx. For your convenience, a report showing the 81 percent compared to the 79 percent is located under Important Notices on the State Aid Web page at http://sde.ok.gov/sde/state-aid.
We will be closely monitoring each month’s cash and make adjustments as needed. If you have questions, please contact State Aid.
We’ve become accustomed to mid-year cuts. It’s a sad but true fact. They still hurt. Every month is a new stomach punch.
In Mid-Del alone, our share of the shortfall is $813,200. That’s about 18 teaching positions. In other words, when we presented our board a budget last summer based on the funding promised by the state, we were at least $813,200 long on the revenue side. With two more months to go in the fiscal year, it’ll easily pass a million.
Last summer, we projected that we would end the year with a stable fund balance (carry over), and we’ve worked throughout the year to save money where we can. Maybe the $5 million we cut from the budget last year wasn’t enough. Apparently we should have done more.
Maybe our class sizes aren’t big enough yet. Maybe we should cut some bus routes. Maybe there are too many sports. Maybe the four-day week should get a closer look by those of us who aren’t there yet.
If we keep enduring cuts, there are no good choices. We either make Terrible Decision A, or we make Terrible Decision B. No amount of shaming by legislators or state officials will change that.
I get it. Oklahoma is broke. We’re broker than broke. Every state agency is enduring cuts. I’m glad to see more of them speaking out about what those losses mean too. And I know many great lawmakers ready and willing to help us, if the right coalition comes together. No Republican can afford, politically, to carry the flag for tax increases alone. That’s just reality.
Unfortunately, we have a variety of legislators representing Oklahomans at the Capitol. Some, conveniently, choose not to believe in things like the teacher shortage, budget collapses, or even science. I can’t tell you that all the legislators wanting to help public education will be enough. It’s going to take pressure on those who really don’t value what we do.
We need to explain to some, still, why having a budget carryover is not a way to fund teacher raises. We need to share our stories about class sizes we’ve increased and programs we’ve cut. We need to do it boldly. This isn’t the time to mince words.
Do we accept this as the new normal, Craig? Not only no, but hell no. Our kids and teachers deserve better than to have a bunch of passive leaders who roll over at this. The companies that allegedly won’t come to Oklahoma because of all the four day weeks are probably smart enough to be scared off by the state’s scant per pupil funding as well.
We are in a man-made fiscal crisis. If we didn’t vote, or if we voted for the people who continue to cut off revenue streams for basic state services, we are to blame.
Oh, and one other thing, in case you’ve missed it. While we weren’t watching, the state has spent the entire Rainy Day Fund.
In fact, officials admitted earlier this month that the state’s constitutional reserve — known as the Rainy Day Fund — has been emptied in order to pay bills and meet payroll.
Doerflinger repeated earlier assurances that enough revenue will come in during the final three months of the fiscal year to replace the borrowed money, but said the situation still calls for new revenue sources.
“The fact we have had to borrow from these funds shows just how serious the state’s revenue problem is,” he said.
Doerflinger would not rule out the possibility of a second round of spending cuts before the end of the budget year on June 30.
March receipts totaled $352.1 million, or 9 percent below the official estimate and 10.7 percent below actual collections for the same month a year ago.
Year-to-date, general revenue collections are 2.8 percent below the estimate and 6.2 percent, or $231.3 million, below the prior year.
Whether depleting the Rainy Day Fund without legislative approval is legal or not really isn’t for me to decide. I’m not a lawyer, but I know when something sounds sketchy.
What this means is that our state budget hole is closer to $1.3 billion. That framework for teacher raises is meaningless unless the state fills that hole. All the rhetoric in the world means nothing if our elected officials can’t agree on where to find new revenue.
As the image below shows, our legislators and governor passed a budget last May that hasn’t been met by reality. That’s three in a row. It’s trend behavior.
Conveniently, no cuts from the budget happened until after the November elections. Go figure.
We’ve cut the fat. We’re cutting limbs. There isn’t much left.