Public education not spared from latest round of budget cuts
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A one percent cut in the state School Aid Formula will result in a total of more than $16 million in funding reductions in county school systems.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed an executive order Monday ordering budget cuts because of a significant decrease in state revenues mainly caused by decreased coal production and the record low prices for natural gas.
Tomblin’s order requires a four percent cut in the current state budget for most state agencies along with the one percent cut in school aid. Public education can no longer be spared in the current budget climate, Tomblin’s Chief of Staff Charlie Lorensen said.
“Holding that (public education) harmless continually without adjusting that and continuing to pound the (same) state agencies with across-the-board reductions seemed like an area we needed to address,” Lorensen said Tuesday on MetroNews Talkline.
The amount of money county school systems receive from the state Aid Formula varies per county. Information from the state Department of Education shows the cuts range from $1.56 million in Kanawha County to $62,600 in Gilmer County.
Lorensen would not rule out additional cuts for all agencies during the current budget year as long as severance tax revenues from coal and natural gas continue to plummet.
“A significant general revenue source has been impaired and we are concerned it may be a long-term impairment,” he said.
Higher education will be required to shoulder the four percent cut. It’s been hit with various cuts in recent years.
Breakdown of state School Aid Formula budget cut:
School Aid Formula
FY16 Appropriations: $1,752,212,115
Excluded from cuts: $148,946,738 (Local Share, Retirement, PEIA, SBA)
Total subject to cuts: $1,603,265,377
1 percent of that is: $16,032,654