Quick Budget Reactions: Education

Greg R. Lawson Feb 06, 2017

Overall, the Ohio Department of Education seeks 1.2% and 1.4% budget increases in FY18 and FY19 respectively. These are relatively modest overall increases and, taken as a whole, Gov. Kasich's education funding proposal is a welcome change from the past several budgets where spending increases significantly exceeded the rate of inflation.

Further, the governor’s proposal attempts, with small steps, to begin unwinding the inherent problems of “caps” and “guarantees,” which are increasingly distorting the accurate functioning of the Foundation Funding Formula (the designated amount spent on each public school student from the state’s general revenue funds and lottery profits). “Guarantees” allow districts with declining enrollment to maintain previous funding levels despite serving fewer students and “caps” prevent districts with growing enrollment levels to receive the full dollar amount from the state as calculated by the funding formula.

Foundation Funding has increased 18% since FY12. Thus, flat funding would be an even better policy combined with the governor’s proposal to shift away from the caps and guarantees.

The governor’s budget proposal would allow for districts that have experienced enrollment drops of greater than 5% to receive less state aid--on a sliding scale--up to a maximum of 5%. This is a good first step to restoring the foundation formula to its originally designed purpose, though we should go much further to more accurately reflect actual enrollments.