Capitol Update: Week 6

The SAVE Fund, Infrastructure Dollars, Property Tax Relief

Last week the House Education Committee approved a bill, on a bipartisan vote, extending the sunset date on the statewide penny sales tax that provides funding for school infrastructure.  The fund, in which the penny is deposited, is called the SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education) fund.

This has been a priority for schools for several years now, making sure the dollars that are used by our schools to maintain and build safe, high-quality learning environments that keep pace with changes in technology and student needs.

The original intent of SAVE was to not only save property tax payers money by providing a steady stream of revenue for infrastructure that otherwise would have fallen on property taxes through general obligation bonds, but also to provide direct property tax relief by sending 2.1% of the SAVE dollars to lower the rates for property tax payers in low-property value districts.  The bill took steps forward on this point by increasing the amount from 2.1% to 12%.  The impact of this move will be an estimated $2.4 billion in direct property tax relief over the next 30 years.  Most of the aid will go to low-value, high-rate districts, but some will go to all districts across the state for relief.

The bill also created a Career Academy Fund which will provide dollars to districts through competitive grants to create regional career academies meant to get high school students in the pipeline to high-quality, high-paying jobs through classes and experiences related to those careers.

New language this year that was not in last year’s bill is intent language to provide some measures of security in school buildings.  Before districts are allowed to use their funds for athletic facilities, the district must ensure that all school buildings are secured with locked entrances, cameras, and other security features.

Lastly, the bill also put some accountability on the use of SAVE funds.  Both the building of athletic facilities and the district use of SAVE dollars to back bonding projects will see more transparency as the school board must adopt a resolution and hold a public hearing on these two uses of SAVE funds.  Voters will then have the opportunity to petition and stop such projects if they choose.

The Senate is moving a similar bill, concurrently, which has passed their Education Committee as well.  Next up for both chambers is action through the Ways and Means committees.

House Announces Responsible Budget Plan

This week, the House Majority announced targets for the FY20 budget. The House budget plan for FY2020 spends $7.668 billion, accounting for 97.45% of on-going revenue. This is $9.5 million higher than Governor Reynolds’ FY2020 budget proposal of $7.658 billion.

The House budget plan increases spending by .63% compared to the adjusted FY2019 budget. Additionally, the budget fills all reserve accounts to the statutory requirements and leaves a healthy ending balance of $298.6 million.

This is a responsible budget plan that funds our priorities, limits spending, and puts taxpayers first. This budget plan also allows us to invest in key priorities like education, career training, health care, and public safety.

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