My office has received several inquiries about the impact the Supreme Court’s ruling on school funding has on the State Treasurer’s Office and the duties of the state treasurer.
Simply put, the state treasurer does not have the authority or discretion to determine what warrants he pays. Rather, the State Treasurer’s role is to pay warrants that someone else issued. This is in the statutes that define the state treasurer’s role and the statutes describing the school funding formula.
School payment vouchers are initiated by the Department of Education (under a schedule outlined by the state school board) and approved by the director of the Division of Budget. The state treasurer’s role in making payments from the state treasury is similar to that of a banker who simply makes payments based upon the depositor’s orders to pay in the form of a check.
Furthermore, our office doesn’t have the ability to intercept or cancel payments. Payments made through the state SMART system are issued by the Department of Education, approved by the Division of Budget, and verified by the Department of Administration.
It is unfortunate that the Judicial branch seems to be fighting with the Legislative and Executive branches. I personally think it is wrong for the Court to choose to threaten that public schools should be closed, especially since over 98% of the yearly budget for the school districts is in agreement and has been budgeted by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.
As a parent with kids in public schools, I’m particularly concerned. I believe my kids get a good public education. It would be devastating to hold back kids and prevent them from getting their education. Choosing to close schools would be a major problem for a lot of parents, especially single parents and two-income parents.
Opening our public schools on time with the money that has been appropriated, while the school funding lawsuit continues, seems to be a common sense solution for the state, for parents, and especially for our kids.