Editorial: Senate Budget Is More About Re-election, Not the People
The state Senate budget that was passed last week includes raises for teachers that are much-needed. It's a nice change from the abuse that public schools have faced regarding budget cuts, but there are suspicions that this budget may be more about ideology than helping public schools. Elections are coming up soon, and parts of this budget provide strong evidence that the Senate is thinking more about their political agendas than genuinely improving public education.
There are some good things in the budget that the state Senate passed last week, things that nobody should argue about, although some will. That includes substantial raises for the state's teachers, ranging up to 7.5 percent for some of them. That's considerably more generous than the House version of the budget, which offers teacher raises of up to 5 percent.
While we've applauded the program that gives "Opportunity Scholarships" to low-income families who want to send their children to private schools, we're worried about the Senate's attempt to escalate the program by about $10 million a year through 2027, at which time it will get $145 million. That's a huge chunk of funding cut away from the public schools, almost guaranteeing that more of them will fail.
In recent years, budget writers have stripped millions from the funding for books and supplies, from teacher-assistant and teacher funding, even from school-bus replacement budgets. But now Senate leaders see no problem with diverting ever-more money from the public schools to send our kids to private schools.
While we're pleased to see substantial raises proposed for those teachers still standing, it's hard to argue that our legislative leaders are fully committed to our public schools.