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Vicious proration cycle continues

It shouldn’t come as any surprise. House Speaker Seth Hammett and House budget committee Chairman John Knight met with Gov. Bob Riley this week and the message afterwards was a familiar if unwelcome one:

Proration will come.

Hammett was quoted as saying the governor “is definitely going to have to declare proration,” which really comes as no surprise to anyone who has watched the state’s budget woes for the past two years. Experts are predicting a 12 percent proration to the state’s General Fund budget, which will trickle down to all facets of our government, including education.

And that means here in Pike County, both the city and county school districts will once again feel the pinch of reduced state funding. School leaders should be prepared for this. With reduced revenues trending steady during the past three years, proration again this year was likely. Unfortunately, we seem to be trapped in a cycle of budgeting and proration, with no real plan to break the cycle.

If state lawmakers are unwilling to take drastic steps to break this cycle – for example, a proposal earlier this year to reduce education expenses called for changes in the retirement program and increases in insurance deductibles, unpopular but effective – than we’re destined as a state to continue this cycle.

And our students and schools are destined to continue to suffer.