Three major education funding bills cleared the House on Monday.
HB 177 stops the state from reducing aid to districts, called stabilization grants, and restores it to 2016 levels for the next two years.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rick Ladd of Haverhill, said this provides temporary relief while they figure out a longer-term funding plan.
“We’re recognizing there are towns in dire straits right now," he said. "And we need to do something about this.”
Another bipartisan bill, HB 709, increases the per-pupil funding formula and gives an extra boost to property poor districts through fiscal disparity aid. After the two years of funding mandated by HB 177, this bill cuts stabilization grants, increasing aid instead via the revamped formula.
The House also passed HB 511 to establish an independent commission that would review all aspects of education funding. Supporters believe it could lead to an overhaul of the state's funding formula.
Another bill, HB 184, increases full-day kindergarten funding and stops the state from relying on revenue from the gambling game Keno to fund full-day kindergarten funding.
"Revenue from Keno has been insufficient to fund full-day kindergarten," said the bill's sponsor, Democrat David Luneau of Hopkinton, "And school districts need reliable and predictable funding to develop their budgets."
Opponents of the bill said Keno hasn’t been around long enough to know how much revenue it could generate, and that it was unfair to pass the bill right before dozens of towns vote on whether to authoize the game.