This morning’s Journal has veritable Santa Claus Hanna Skandera dropping gifts down the budgetary chimney to the tune of a 1.8 percent rise in “State Equalization Guarantee,” the school funding per-pupil unit formula.
In the story, Skandera turns from Santa to scolding Scrooge in a fascinating little comment regarding Albuquerque Public Schools having budgeted for a 2 percent cut based on projections and the past legislative session:
“Skandera was skeptical about the district’s decision to initially budget for a 2 percent cut. ‘I don’t know why they did that,’ she said.”
Well, here’s why they did that, Santa Scrooge. Your boss, Governor Susana Martinez, told them to do so back at the end of January in her bill message for SB 114 ordering districts to shrink their cash reserve in response to the fiscal crisis:
This strategic reduction to excess cash balances gets our state closer to the fiscal stability it needs, while preserving classroom dollars. And while a two-percent cut may pose a challenge, our districts have the means. For example, Albuquerque Public Schools’ $12 million reduction still leaves the district with more than $42 million in cash balances, more than enough to continue to provide services to their students without shutdowns, layoffs, or a lapse in classroom support.
It’s easy to forget, and Santa Scrooge and Governor Martinez most definitely want you to, but the fiscal picture back during the Session was even bleaker than it is now. While APS does lots of stupid things, it was only prudent to take the 2 percent cut in cash reserves as definite sign that similar cuts to the overall school budget were needed.
Of course the fiscal uncertainty has only been exacerbated by a Governor’s Office that insanely cuts all higher education funding, pretends for weeks that revenue forecasts haven’t improved, and refuses for long stretches of time to even meet with legislative leaders to explain any of this. What else would you expect school districts to do, Santa Scrooge? You and your governor have a willful, and baleful, communications disorder. Some might instead put it in psychological terms, but Better Burque’s knowledge of the DSM is fuzzy.
Evidently Ms. Skandera feels that laughing at the APS “mistake” will give the Governor’s Office some leverage in the upcoming Special Session. Here’s hoping the Legislature and New Mexico citizens aren’t too stupid to fall for the “gift.”