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INFORMATIONAL LETTER:  # 67

 

POLICY CODE:  DB

 

 

TO:                    Superintendents of Schools

 

FROM:             J. Duke Albanese, Commissioner

 

DATE:               March 19, 2002

 

RE:                    Legislative Progress Towards a Final Budget for FY 2001-02 and FY 2002-03

 

 

Last night, the Appropriations Committee formally voted to endorse a bipartisan, compromise supplemental budget package for FY2001-02 and FY2002-03 that is supported by the King Administration.  The full Legislature is expected to discuss and vote on this soon.  Changes to educational components of the budget are detailed below. 

It is important to note that the following information represents the recommendations of the Appropriations Committee, supported by Governor King and legislative leaders.  The final budget bill, LD 2080 (as amended by the following items and other changes that are not related to education) must still be debated and voted on by the full Legislature.  Floor action and final passage may occur within the week if the recommendations hold.

General Purpose Aid for Education (GPA).  The final GPA appropriation for FY 2002-03 in the negotiated budget package is $730,817,941.  This represents a 4.11% increase over the FY 2001-02 appropriation in the biennium budget as enacted last spring.  This appropriation is based on GPA Plan 7, which was the Education Committee’s recommendation to the Appropriations Committee, plus an additional $2,193,685 to be targeted for Program Costs.  Most of the features of the final GPA appropriation are similar to the features of the Governor’s initial GPA proposal, which was the basis for the ED 261 printouts sent to superintendents and described in my Administrative Letter #17, dated January 10, 2002.  There are three differences between the final GPA appropriation and the GPA proposal that was the basis for the January 10 printouts:

1.      The Operating Costs subsidy appropriation is increased by $7,806,315.  With this increase, the appropriation for Operating Costs increases to the same amount as during the current year, FY2001-02.

2.      The Program Costs subsidy appropriation is increased by $2,193,685.  With this increase, the appropriation for Program Costs increases by 10.12% over the current year, and allows the Program Costs Reduction Percentage to drop from –4.98% in the current year to –2.99% in FY 2002-03. 

3.      An additional appropriation of $2,459,350 is made for State Agency Clients and for State Wards for FY 2002-03, in addition to the 25% increase in this line that was already part of my Recommended Funding Level and included in the Governor’s proposed budget.  This figure is intended to provide sufficient resources for the Department to pay 100% of all bills presented for payment during FY 2002-03. 

The final GPA appropriation also provides an additional appropriation of $6,699,734 for State Agency Clients and for State Wards for FY 2001-02.  This figure is intended to provide sufficient resources for the Department to pay 100% of all bills presented for payment during FY 2001-02.  The combined additional appropriations for State Agency Clients and State Wards ($6,699,734 for FY 2001-02 and $2,459,350 for FY 2002-03) had been included in Governor King’s February 27, 2002 Budget Change Package.

Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MTLI).  In the Governor’s proposed budget, he recommended reducing the remaining laptop funds from $30 million to $25 million.  This recommended reduction is included in the budget package endorsed by the Appropriations Committee.  The balance of funds in the Endowment is sufficient to support the four-year contract with Apple Computer and to fully realize the first phase of this initiative to equip all seventh and eighth grade students and teachers with wireless notebook computers and supporting infrastructure and services.

Distance Learning.  In the Governor’s February 27, 2002 change package, he recommended reducing the ATM appropriation for FY 2001-02 by $150,000, due to unspent balances in this program.  In the negotiated budget package, this $150,000 deappropriation is restored to the original ATM appropriation for FY 2002-03.  In light of the substantial interest expressed by schools, this amount will enable the program to bring some additional sites into service in 2002-03, beyond the 61 that had already been targeted for support.

Adult Education.  In the Governor’s proposed budget, he recommended reducing the Adult Education appropriation for FY 2002-03 by $130,000, to reflect the same percentage growth as GPA.  In the negotiated budget package, this $130,000 deappropriation is not included, so the original Adult Education appropriation for FY 2002-03 would be unchanged at $4,983,613, representing a 6% increase over the current year.

We will keep you informed as action continues on this negotiated budget package.