State Says Reports Of Additional Money Found For Education Inaccurate

Thursday, February 18th 2016, 4:56 pm

There is a lot of confusion at the Capitol after a published report that the state found more than $43 million in school funding that could reduce cuts to schools. But state agencies say that’s not the case. 

“When something sounds too good to be true it usually is,” said John Estus of the State Office of Management and Enterprise Services. “That’s certainly the case here. There has been no lost money.  There has been no found money.  This whole situation has been blown way out of proportion.”

Here’s what happened. Schools are funded, in part, through a roughly $ 700 million revolving fund called the 1017 fund.  Forty-three million dollars was carried over from last fiscal year to this year.  That, according to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone.

“We’ve known about it for months. We knew about it from the day we rolled it over into the account. Every state agency has access to the same accounting system we have access to,” said Estus.

But the Board of Equalization, which certified revenue numbers this week, didn’t take that $43 million into account because it was roll-over money. 

“The Board of Equalization exists to forecast revenues in a fiscal year. But they only count the revenues that are expected to be collected in that fiscal year. They don’t count what rolls over into the 1017 fund. They never have,” said Estus.

The forecast led the State Department of Education to warn districts of massive cuts, with or without the $43 million rollover.

“We still stand with pour opinion that this is something that schools need to brace themselves for,” said Department of Education Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. “A cut that will either come at the very end of the fiscal year which ends June 30 or it would start July 1 with a very very large hole.”