Walter Jones of the Morris News Service is out with a preview of how the state will tackle Zero Based Budgeting, where each government agency must recreate its budget from a blank sheet of paper every few years. First up with be the department of education, including the state’s funding formula for public schools:
Zero-based budgeting calls for intensive examination of all aspects of government programs and their effectiveness. It’s different from how most of the budget is reviewed, because usually lawmakers only consider the few programs recommended for increases or cuts, while the bulk of the budget remains unexamined. Supporters of zero-based budgeting see it as a way to uncover waste and duplication.
The targets for the fiscal-year 2014 budget include 25 education programs such as school nurses, nutrition, agricultural education and Regional Education Service Agencies, according to a list released by Deal’s office.
Ordinarily, the funding formula might be a giant project to undertake, but the legislature already has it on its agenda. Deal appointed a commission of lawmakers, educators and citizens two years ago to review the formula. That commission already is due to make its recommendations in time for the start of next year’s legislative session.
A couple of notes: Most of my Republican friends assume Zero Based Budgeting will automatically mean cost savings. In my day job of cost estimating labor projects and programs I will note that the most expensive cost estimates are the ground-up blank sheet estimates.
Much like “Comprehensive Tax Reform”, changing the funding formula for public schools will not just be an analysis of the bottom line. There are likely to be winners and losers in the process.