Thursday, January 21, 2016

School Funding taking hit in devastated energy producing Republican states!

Oil prices are plunging, and coal is on its way out. That's bad news for energy producing Republican states that have cut income and corporate taxes to the bone. They took the irresponsible route with an "eggs in one basket" approach to funding their state budgets.

Now their social obligation bills are due, and Republicans are broke. They were warned coal and gas prices could someday tank, and energy producing red state politicians ignored the advice. Edweek:
Reeling from drastic midyear cuts after they grossly miscalculated expected revenues amid falling oil prices and troubles in the coal industry, legislators in several mineral-dependent states, including Alaska and Oklahoma, are set to debate alternative revenue sources for state school aid.

"Generally speaking, when oil money was flowing well, we decided we didn't need sales or income tax revenue, and we ended up with a sole source of revenue," said Mike Hanley, Alaska's education commissioner, who had to shutter the state's pre-K program last year after the state told him to ax a third of his department's budget.
West Virginia imposed midyear, 1 percent cuts to state school funding ... included teacher layoffs, closed schools, and consolidation of some districts with waning student populations. Wyoming in the past used revenue from its coal-mining industry to build new schools. In 2013, the state received $736 million for school construction from that source. In 2019, it is projected to receive just $26 million.
Republicans abandoned a formula that's worked for year; a state tax system where everybody can expect to pay their fair share. And Republicans want to run the country?
During the most recent oil boom, Oklahoma's Republican Gov. Mary Fallin led the state's Republican-dominated legislature through a series of income and corporate tax breaks. The state now collects in taxes just half what it did in 2007. In December, Gov. Fallin declared a "revenue failure" after tax collections fell $50 million, or 12 percent short of projections in November. School districts had to make $47 million in cuts or 1.5 percent of their total budgets last year. Fallin predicts the legislature will face a $900 million shortfall next year.

In Alaska, Independent Gov. Bill Walker is proposing the state's first income tax in 35 years after analysts predicted the state will fail to collect two-thirds of the revenue needed to fill the state's $5 billion operating budget … The state earlier this year told its education department to cut a third of its budget, which axed, among other things, its preschool services and a professional development program for administrators. Some rural districts, which have just a handful of students left, are considering closing ... legislatures are debating whether to close schools with fewer than 25 students, a centuries-long mainstay in the mostly rural state. "When you start closing those schools, you start to eliminate communities," said Bobby Bolen, the superintendent of the Bering Strait school district.

Legislators in some oil states warn them to think long-term. "Education is not a one-time expense," said North Dakota state Rep. Jeff Delzer
 LOUISIANA: Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal recommended in November cutting $1.2 million from the state’s education department. Local officials say they’re seeing a decrease in sales tax after the oil industry laid off 10,000 workers in the last six months alone. Legislators predict a $1 billion shortfall next fiscal year.

WYOMING: The state for decades has used money from its coal-mining industry to pay for school construction. In 2013, it received $736 million from that source for school construction. In 2019, it is projected to receive just $26 million. Lawmakers will have to cut $500 million from the state’s $3.5 billion budget this legislative session. The two-year budget cycle ends in June.

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