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K-12 Spending Gets Caught in States' Budget Fights

As states legislative sessions come to a close, K-12 spending has been caught this week in the middle of some states' budget battles.  

As I noted last week, more than half the states this year missed their revenue projections, and many legislators are pushing their colleagues to pass more-conservative budgets this year. Some states, such as Maryland, Texas, and Utah, are pushing for wholesale changes to their states' funding formula.  

For a handful of states that haven't settled on their 2018 fiscal year budgets, school spending, because it takes up such a large part of the budget, has sparked brushfires between parties and chambers.   

In Nevada, its Republican House Minority Leader Paul Anderson pushed this week for the governor to veto that state's budget if it doesn't include money to expand the state's Education Savings Account program.  

Amid a $1.6 billion budget deficit, Oregon's Democratic leaders proposed this week to add millions more to its education budget, while also cutting some spending in other areas and raising taxes.  A ballot measure last November that would have brought millions more dollars to Oregon's financially struggling public school system failed.

Kansas and Washington officials continue to fight over how to answer their states' supreme court justices, who have deemed their spending unconstitutional. 

Texas' Senate is debating how to overhaul its funding formula after its supreme court said last year that, while there are glaring disparities in the state's funding formula, it was not its place to tell the legislature how to spend its education dollars. 

And, in an interesting twist, Ohio's ongoing battles over its charter authorizers moved into the funding arena this week after the state's House passed a budget that included a provision that effectively prevents the state's education department  from shuttering its embattled and academically struggling online charter schools.  

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