The Rainy Day Fund is capped at 15 percent of the general revenue fund estimates for the prior fiscal year, so HB 1742 would have actually allowed schools to have a higher savings cap than the entire state government at a time when school districts' combined savings exceeded those of the entire state government.
In her veto message, Fallin agreed that schools should be allowed carry-over funds “to address cash flow issues and any unforeseen expenses,” but noted that officials hadn't demonstrated that current carry-over maximums “are insufficient to meet the school districts' needs.”
Indeed. It's hard to reconcile the insistence by some education advocates that schools will be “starved” without another $200 million this year when districts already hold more than three times that amount in reserve.
Not every district maintains a large carry-over; many are undoubtedly judicious when determining how much to hold back and how much to spend. But the overall trend of carry-over totals increasing at a time of budget challenges is troubling.
As Fallin noted in her veto message, “This appropriated, taxpayer money should be used to enhance instruction for our students and to place more money into our classrooms to improve the state's common education system.” No doubt most taxpayers — and especially the parents of Oklahoma schoolchildren — would agree.