The Oklahoma school finance picture is still cloudy with a continuing possibility of issues going forward. It is important to remember that as we move into the new fiscal year, we need to remember the lessons of the past year. The news of an extra $100,000,000 (and a possibility of up to $240,000,000) in the state's general fund can make us want to relax, but we need to remember that while there has been an uptick in some parts of the petroleum industry there are market forecasters who think there will be a downward correction. The long-term health of the state budget is very much dependent on the revenue production of the petroleum industry, and we just don’t know how stable the income really is in the near term. A sudden drop in the price of oil and natural gas could start our treadmill of revenue shortfalls all over again.
The State Aid payments to be received in August of FY17 will be less than those in August of FY16 due to the increase in WADM across the state. It’s important not to count on a zero-based budget. With the net loss of state activity funds in some areas as well as the movement of the textbook monies into the State Aid fund, there is going to be a net negative effect. However, the loss will not be near where we were afraid it could be at the start of the legislative session. The long-term impact is that State Aid per WADM is going to suffer in FY17. A strong and steady recovery in the commodities that drive Oklahoma’s economy is essential to place the state’s education system back on solid ground. We will be releasing the full Chargeable report and a separate Motor Vehicle Summation document.
There is a lot of interest in the motor vehicle issue, and we have recorded each district's total income from each chargeable. We are in the process of using the past five years of ADA and motor vehicle income to complete our study. We are still waiting on the School Land Commission payments to be posted to complete the total chargeable loss this year. We will be sending this out within the next two weeks. Our current projections on State Aid losses are between $117.00 and $135.00, depending on the WADM that is used by the SDE.
More to come...