The Senate Finance Committee voted 4-2 to remove full-day kindergarten funding from the budget on Wednesday, according to the Concord Monitor. In addition, the committee voted to increase funding for charter schools and against a freeze to stabilization aid, which gives extra funding to low-income districts. The proposed budget also provides $83,500 for a spokesperson for the Department of Education, at the request of the commissioner.
The Senate passed Senate Bill 191 on March 30, which created a targeted funding program for full-day kindergarten. The House amended the bill to fully fund all full-day kindergarten programs, and the bill is currently in the House Finance Committee.
Senators on the committee were weary of the Finance Committee’s recommendation, which is scheduled for next Wednesday, May 24:
“I don’t want to bank on the House Finance committee. For all we know, they’re going to retain the bill [SB 191],” Sen. Dan Feltes, a Concord Democrat, told his fellow senators on Wednesday.
Sen. Chuck Morse, a Salem Republican, said it was the House that had played with fire by taking the $9 million proposal the Senate had sent over and upping it to $14.5 million.
“Obviously, people want to play with it, up the amount of money, and can’t take a good thing and start it,” the Senate president said. “It’s a good bill the way we sent it over and that’s the bill that should pass.”
The Senate Finance Committee also voted to increase charter school funding by $250 per student in 2018 and $375 in 2019:
That’s different – and less – than what the governor had requested in his budget, where he’d suggested indexing charter school aid to spending in traditional public schools. Sununu’s proposal would have given charters an extra $500 per-pupil in 2018 and $1000 in 2019.
The Republican majority on the committee also declined to fund a position at the department of education to oversee charter schools. They did, however, vote in favor of an $83,500 annual request from the commissioner to give the department a dedicated spokesperson, as well as $150,000 in one-time spending for website and data reporting improvements.