by David Safier
. . . the cut to public schools is higher than the $103 million in that original proposal, which would have taken the cut exclusively from the schools' "soft capital" budgets, which pay for such things as textbooks, computers and transportation.
The deal calls for a $21 million cut in those categories, but it would be accompanied by an agreement to not renew a program that lets schools exceed a limit on their budgets. That translates into a $98 million budget cut, though school districts with enrollments of less than 600 students would be exempt.
Pearce said there are good reasons to look askance at the federal dollars: They could have strings attached that would require more spending by the state, and they could promote programs the state isn't interested in.
Most importantly, Pearce said, the federal stimulus plan still needs Senate action, and it would be foolish to wait because every day that the Legislature delays action increases the deficit about $30 million.