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CHAFEE BUDGET: $30.4 Million More for School Aid; Tuition Freeze at State Schools

Thursday, January 17, 2013

 

One of the biggest themes in Governor Chafee’s State of the State address last night, and his proposed fiscal year 2014 budget, involves an increased commitment to funding education in Rhode Island.

In fact, two of his biggest proposals center on it.

The Governor is asking for $30.4 million more in funding to provide additional school aid to support the new funding formula.

Under his budget, both the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years include $400K for the State’s E-Rate match for federal funds and there would also be a $400K line item in grant support to the telecommunications authority to “move them to private ownership.”

All told, the Governor would increase school aid from $739.5 million in the revised 2013 budget to $767.2 in fiscal year 2014, resulting in an increase of $27.7 million.

This would come in addition to $2.7 million more in categorical aid for items such as transportation ($3.3 million in 2014 if approved), high cost special education ($1 million), career and technical ($3.5 million) and early childhood ($2.5 million).

“Throughout my career in public service, I have been committed to quality public education,” Chafee said. “There is simply no more important investment we can make than in our schools and the potential of our students.”

Chafee has also allocated over $14 million to “support repairs at the state’s vocational education facilities,” but it will be his efforts in freezing tuition at the state’s three biggest higher educational institutions that is sure to grab the largest headlines.

Saying the state’s responsibility to students “goes beyond K-12 schools,” the governor is proposing a $6 million increase for the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island.The catch is, however, that the three institutes must match the state in finding ways to reduce spending by $6 million to get the money. 

Chafee projects that will raise enough money in total to stave off a tuition increase at any of the three institutions.

“We must do all we can to ensure that motivated and hardworking Rhode Islanders can attain a quality college education,” he said. “And we must ensure that they can do so without taking on mounting levels of debt. The biggest barriers to these goals are ever‐increasing tuition rates.” 

 

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