The 2021 legislative session ended without a lot of fanfare or much accomplished. No agreement was reached on any part of the state budget and many policy differences were left unresolved. Legislative leaders and the Governor did, however, agree on the framework of an overall budget and laid out expected timelines for the process over June.
The new target for E-12 education is $525 million over current law for the FY22-23 biennium and $675 million for the FY24-25 biennium. This much-lowered target will make it challenging to increase the formula by 2% along with the other spending priorities that both bodies have. For perspective, the Governor’s proposed formula increase of 1% and 2.5% costs $300 million for this biennium and $505 million for the FY24-25 biennium. To increase the formula by 2% per year costs $399 million for this biennium and $575 million for the next biennium.
Although legislative leaders established deadlines for budget negotiations, the process has hardly been transparent. The finance chairs were expected to finalize the budget details by May 28 and policy provisions are to be worked out by June 4. This is all in advance of a June 14 special session the Governor is expected to call to renew his peacetime emergency power. The thought on the last day of the session was that they would also use this time to pass the budget. However, legislators have yet to finalize any budget details and it is doubtful any policy will come together soon so it is now very likely any resolution on the budget will not happen until the end of June.
The process unfolding is extremely frustrating but know that your time spent connecting with your elected officials has not gone unnoticed. We know this is a busy time for you, but your calls, emails, and visits have made a difference in helping legislators understand the myriad challenges you have faced this past year and the funding needs that lay ahead.