Moodys praises RI school funding hike, warns on WoonsocketJune 27th, 2012 at 11:41 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
The 2012-13 state budget Governor Chafee signed into law last week will help Rhode Island municipalities and school districts by providing $34 million in new education funding, Moody’s Investors Service says.
The nearly 4% hike in state aid for K-12 schools is the third annual increase in a row and “a credit positive for both school districts and for cities and towns,” Moody’s analysts wrote in a research note Tuesday. “State funding for education now stands at over $900 million, well above the pre-recession peak,” they said.
However, Moody’s said the impact isn’t uniform across the state because of the new school funding formula. Barrington will get the biggest increase in education aid in 2012-13 at 42%, while the Chariho school district will suffer the biggest drop, losing 14%. Non-education aid will be flat after plunging since 2007.
Moody’s also noted lawmakers’ $2.6 million appropriation to offset some of the deep cuts in Central Falls’ pension benefits will help that city emerge from bankruptcy, but expressed concern about the failure of a proposed supplemental tax sought by cash-strapped Woonsocket.
The failure to enact any laws to stabilize the 36 locally run pension plans also drew concern. “Members of the legislature have publicly stated that they intend to take up local pension reform, but the delay into the next legislative year highlights the significant political hurdles they’ll have to surmount,” Moody’s wrote.
(chart: Moody’s Investors Service)