While this isn’t my dream list of cuts, and some things are still in there, the Delaware Joint Finance Committee sure did swing the axe on tons of programs from Governor Markell’s budget! Gone is the after-school SAIL funding ($1 million), the always controversial charter school performance fund ($500,000), career pathways programs ($250,000), more internet bandwidth for schools ($3 million), a technology block grant ($1 million), and SEED scholarship expansion ($500,000).
The VERY controversial early learning budget of $11 million got cut to $9 million. Teachers will not be happy about this: they lost their raises which had $3 million allocated. Even the big three: University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Technical Community College got a 1% slash in their operating budgets.
Governor Markell is on the way out and the Joint Finance Committee sent a strong message to Delawareans today: we are not going to allow all this rampant spending in education to continue for programs that have no intrinsic value to the true success of students. It’s almost like they read all the crap in the Every Student Succeeds Act and said “Not for Delaware”! I’m sure Rodel is pissed about a lot of these cuts, but it’s about time we got their stink out of Legislative Hall. Eight years is enough!
They can cut some more stuff: the charter school transportation slush fund (which can add up to about $2 million a year), all these insane contracts the DOE has with the take the money and run education companies (they could probably save the deficit by taking an axe to that stuff), and perhaps some more to the early learning program (or hell, give it all to the basic special education funding for Kindergarten to 3rd grade students with disabilities). Not mentioned in today’s round of budget cuts are any funds associated with the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan. But the General Assembly has to pass the legislation first!
The JFC meets tomorrow, so there could be more. I’m sure the lobbyists are chomping at the bit to meet with every single legislator they can between now and June 30th, the last day of the 148th General Assembly.