Baker: Wait for Education Reform Bill May Stretch Into 2020

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Republican Gov. Charlie Baker hinted in a new interview that a major education funding reform bill eagerly awaited on Beacon Hill may need to wait until next year.

In an interview with WGBH’s Joe Mathieu that aired Monday, Baker said he believes the Legislature is working “in good faith,” but that making changes to the state's foundation budget formula is a significant challenge.

“I do believe that there will be an Education 2.0 bill during this legislative session,” Baker said in the interview. "I don’t know if it will be by the end of this calendar year or by the end of the session. For purposes of the next school year, which starts a year from now, I think there will be a bill in place and I think it will basically address most of the issues that people have been talking about."

A 2015 report found the existing foundation budget formula underaccounts for about $1 billion in needs each year. Since then, Democratic legislative leaders moved long-term education funding bills through both branches but were unable to agree on a consensus bill and have been unable in 2019 to generate momentum on the issue.

Baker filed a $1 billion education-funding bill at the start of the current two-year lawmaking session, and the Democratic chairs of the Education Committee have been privately drafting their own version all year.

Sen. Jason Lewis, the committee’s Senate chair, initially said he hoped to file a bill by June, but as fall arrives, neither the committee nor party leadership has offered a clear timeline on when the legislation will be ready.

The fiscal year 2020 budget increased funding by about $268 million, a bigger jump than in previous years, but does not guarantee a long-term change to the formula.

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