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Standing for Our Students during Our Revenue Challenges

06/17/2020

The quarterly state revenue forecast came out today, and as expected, it is challenging.  

WEA members know better than most that basic education funding is protected by our state Constitution, as affirmed by the McCleary lawsuit which we championed, and can’t be cut for economic reasons.   

Given the latest update to the state’s revenue forecast, WEA members must stand united and strong to demand that lawmakers maintain education and social safety net programs for our students and their families and that our school districts provide the resources we need to keep students safe and healthy.  

The key takeaways from the forecast:  

  1. Revenue is down 8.6 percent for the remainder of this biennium, or about $4.5 billion.  

  1. The existing cash on hand is as much as the state has ever had, at $2.6 billion.  

  1. Adjusting the updated revenue reductions with state’s cash reserves, the net shortfall for this biennium is $1.9 billion. 

While legislators have been talking about balancing the budget through program cuts, new revenue or a combination thereof – WEA opposes cuts to the social safety net and education programs from early learning through higher education.  

Basic education funding is protected by our state Constitution.  But our students need more than the basics.  Especially in these times, many  need mental health supports in their schools and food and housing supports the state provides for their families.  And schools will need additional staff and resources including custodians, counselors, social workers, school psychologists and nurses to keep the entire school community safe and healthy as we return to the classroom. 

To stimulate economic recovery, school districts and the state need to increase investments in our community.  We will fight to make sure any cuts made to our state budget will not disproportionately impact the people who most need support to help restart our economy — people of color, immigrants and low-income families.  The Governor, Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader have all gone on the record to say enacting laws for new revenue sources is not off the table. They believe there should be a balance of budget savings and new revenues.  

We have a long road ahead  as we fight to keep education funding and social safety net programs whole that our students and their families rely on.  We’ll need to stand together at the bargaining table and in the Legislature  to maintain funding, student services and staffing levels so we can return to school safely with the extra supports our students will need.  

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