Fiscal impact of class size initiative, and other budget complications

The Office of Financial Management released its fiscal impact statement of I-1351 today. The initiative would lower class sizes for grades K-12 but contains no dedicated funding source.

According to OFM, if approved by voters, I-1351 would increase state spending by $4.7 billion over 5 years ($2 billion in 2015-17 and $2.7 billion in 2017-19). But

I-1351 new staffing formulas are not fully implemented until midway through the 2017–19 biennium. Full biennial costs are projected to be $3.8 billion for the 2019–21 biennium.

(Emphasis mine.) There would also be additional spending required by local districts.

This would throw quite the wrench into the budget works next session, as legislators must deal with the McCleary decision on education funding.

And I-1351 is not the only potential budget complication for legislators next year. Last week the state Supreme Court ruled

that boarding psychiatric patients temporarily in hospital emergency rooms and acute care centers because there isn’t space at certified psychiatric treatment facilities is unlawful.

Rep. Ross Hunter wrote about some of the potential budget implications here.

And we still await a state Supreme Court decision on the public pension gainsharing and COLA cases, which could also significantly impact the budget.