Budget nears closing as lawmakers approve $2.5 billion K-12 funding bill | RecordCourier.com

Budget nears closing as lawmakers approve $2.5 billion K-12 funding bill

Geoff Dornan

The Senate late Sunday approved $2.5 billion for K-12 education funding during the coming budget cycle, which raises average basic per-pupil support to $5,590 in 2014 and $5,676 in 2015.

That moves the education funding measure to the Assembly where on Monday it will, as required in the state Constitution, be the first piece of the budget to receive final approval.

Once K-12 education is funded, lawmakers can approve the other measures that complete the overall $19 billion, two-year state spending plan.

The Appropriations Act spells out spending of $4 billion from the General Fund. The Authorizations Act lays out spending of federal, highway fund, fees and other revenues totaling $12.5 billion.

Together, those measures add up to just about $19 billion.

One piece of the puzzle needed to cover that cost is Senate Bill 475 extending the tax increases approved two years ago that were to sunset July 1. Extending those tax increases makes up $633 million in the budget recommended by the governor and already approved by lawmakers.

They includes the 2.6 percent Local School Support Tax as well as the 1.17 percent Modified Business Tax. Those levies would have dropped back to 2.25 percent and 0.63 percent respectively if allowed to sunset. It also maintains the business license fee at $200 instead of $100. Those numbers increased somewhat over original projections following the May 1 projections by the Economic Forum.

All the major budget bills have now been approved by the first house. They have all also been heard by joint committees of both the Senate and Assembly so approval in the second house is perfunctory.

There are also several smaller one-shot appropriations and policy bills implementing the budget that are finishing their journey through the 2013 Legislature. Among them is SB504 funding the expanded English Language Learner program worked out by both lawmakers and Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office. That program contains a total of $50 million for ELL programs in grades 1-3.

Since the constitution mandates the Legislature finish its business in 120 calendar days, all must be completed by midnight Monday.

That effort, however, is complicated by the fact leadership has scheduled both a Legislative Commission and an Interim Finance Committee meeting today.