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24 June
Comments Off on ALP won’t confirm Digital Transformation Office funding

ALP won’t confirm Digital Transformation Office funding

Australias opposition Labor Party (ALP) wont commit to continued funding or operations of the nations Digital Transformation Office (DTO).

The DTO is modelled on the United Kingdoms Government Digital Service (GDS) and has adopted many of its methods and tools as it pursues a mission of reforming online service delivery.

19 June
Comments Off on Food bank officials say impending funding cuts will leave hundreds of New Yorkers hungry

Food bank officials say impending funding cuts will leave hundreds of New Yorkers hungry

NEW YORK — The clock is ticking with just weeks to go before the start of New York Citys new fiscal year. On the chopping block – cuts to funding that serves as the main bloodline to the citys hundreds of food pantries and kitchens.

Mayor de Blasio wants to slash 1.8 million dollars from last years budgeted amount of $11 million. Critics say that will leave many needy New Yorkers hungry.

Food Bank for New York City says the consequences are dire.

1.4 million New Yorkers over the course of a year turn to soup kitchens some regularly, same episodically when they have an emergency or crisis and dont have food on the table to get them the through, said Triada Stampas, VP for Research and Public Affairs of Food Bank for NYC.

Food Bank partners with over 1,000 outlets to distribute food to the needy. One of those partners – Community Kitchen in West Harlem. They serve dinner to 500 people every night, five days a week. They also serve about 100 seniors daily for breakfast and lunch.

People of all ages and ethnicities could be seen lining up an hour before the doors open for dinner at 4 pm PIX11 found people surprised, and heartbroken to learn their families may go hungry if these cuts go through.

Carolina Cuello, her infant son and 8-year-old daughter Ashley say theyre here to make ends meet.

The (soup kitchens) are helping. Theyre offering food and sometimes our budget is slow and also its very important a lot of people dont have food, said Cuello.

If we are hungry, we can eat here and taste the good food they have, added little Ashley.

The de Blasio administrations 2017 budget wants to slash $1.8 million from last years amount earmarked for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which funds pantries and soup kitchens.

Food Bank for New York City says if the cuts go through, it would bring funding levels back to 2012. Four years later, the need and number of hungry people have grown exponentially.

More than 300,000 children, or 1 in 5 children, as well as 200,000 seniors in New York City rely on emergency food. The price of groceries continue to go up, but fixed incomes do not.

There has much been outcry. 48 of the 51 members of the City Council have signed a petition calling on Mayor de Blasio not only to not cut funding but also to raise the baseline funding to $22 million.

Last fall, half of all food pantries and soup kitchens ran out of food at some point during the year, said Stampas.

In a statement to PIX11, Mayoral spokesperson Aja Worthy-Davis writes:

New York City is committed to reducing hunger by ensuring that all eligible New Yorkers enroll in SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Today, roughly 1.7 million New Yorkers receive SNAP benefits, and beyond that HRAs Emergency Food Assistance Program is actively working with partners to increase the capacity and food supply of emergency food programs throughout the five boroughs. These efforts include a FY16 increase in funding to purchase high-demand food items in larger quantities in order to better meet the needs of member programs. We are doing more than ever before to ensure that those in need do not go hungry.

However, Stampas says although SNAP is the first line of defense in feeding the needy, food stamps are not enough to feed many families for the entire month.

There are shortfalls even with SNAP. Sixty percent of people at soup kitchens and food pantries also receive SNAP, but these benefits dont get them through the month. For that last week or two, its a food pantry or soup kitchen that makes up the gap for them, says Stampas.

For retirees like 70-year-old Arthur Dallas, there is no other option for food. He says hes been coming to Community Kitchen for the past 5 years and now even works here. There are so many hungry, starving people out here and we need the citys support, said Dallas.

When asked what he will do if there is no more funding for meals, he replied, Starve like everybody else.

The new fiscal year begins July 1. There are only a few more weeks for the City Council and the mayor to hammer out a deal. Those who rely on pantries and soup kitchens are holding out hope.

12 June
Comments Off on Reduction in funding for Oklahoma network “cuts right through the bone”

Reduction in funding for Oklahoma network “cuts right through the bone”

Oklahoma’s OETA is preparing for a 16.3 percent cut in state funding that lawmakers imposed in a budget bill approved last week.

The budget, which reduces OETA’s fiscal 2017 appropriation to $2.8 million, is to be signed within days by Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin.

In drafting the budget, Oklahoma lawmakers struggled to cover a $1.3 billion deficit projected for next year that was created largely by the falling price of oil. The state relies heavily on tax revenue from oil production. Besides OETA, other agencies targeted for deep cuts include the State Regents for Higher Education, the Department of Transportation and the State’s Art Council. Each will lose about 16 percent of their tax-based funding.

“The downturn in the energy sector has lasted two years longer than anyone expected and state revenues have suffered,” Gov. Fallin said during an April 13 press conference. She outlined “core services of state government” that would be prioritized in the budget, including school systems, public safety and health and human services.

OETA’s state subsidies have dropped sharply over several budget legislative cycles. Its fiscal 2016 appropriation of nearly $3.4 million was the lowest amount provided to any state-supported public television network in the country.

With the cut to $2.8 million, OETA’s state funding will have dropped 45 percent in eight years. In fiscal 2009, OETA’s appropriation approached $5.2 million.

OETA Executive Director Dan Schiedel said, “The majority leadership do not believe that funding should go to a TV network. But we’re so much more than a TV network. We provide education, emergency communications and public outreach, but they don’t see that.”

OETA’s state funding supports the network’s infrastructure and operational expenses. Revenues raised from viewers, foundations and corporate underwriters pay for national programming from PBS and other program vendors.

The loss of state funding has made it increasingly difficult for OETA to fulfill its mission of informing and educating the public, Schiedel said. “We have already cut our staffing levels and other services to the bone. This additional 16 percent budget reduction cuts right through the bone.”

OETA has set up a committee to assess the situation and look at which services to preserve. Schiedel said he wants to invest as much as possible in educational outreach. He hopes to avoid another round of layoffs but that decision is yet to determined.

Related stories on Current:

  • Wyoming station trims jobs due to state funding cutback
  • State cuts support to Mississippi Public Broadcasting
  • How New Hampshire Public TV bounced back from a loss of state funding
12 June
Comments Off on Which States Have Approved Zika Funding? The Focus Is On Those Areas Most At Risk

Which States Have Approved Zika Funding? The Focus Is On Those Areas Most At Risk

As Zika continues to spread, and the numbers of pregnant women in the United States infected with the Zika virus continue to mount, health officials are left scrambling for the funds necessary to prevent the outbreaks spread. Which states have approved Zika funding? Funds are being made available to those states at the highest risk.

At the federal level, theres been an ongoing fight for Zika funding since February, when the Obama administration asked Congress to approve $1.9 billion in emergency funding to fight the spread of Zika and put money into research to develop treatments and eventually a vaccine. The request for funding stalled in Congress and still has yet to have actually gotten a vote, despite the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 618 cases of Zika reported in the continental United States, and 1,110 cases reported in US Territories.

The real concern is protecting pregnant women from Zika exposure. Contracting Zika while pregnant has been linked with catastrophic birth defects, including microcephaly, a condition where the baby is born with severe brain damage and small head. Without the necessary precautions, there will surely be more babies born with Zika-related birth defects, leaving many women panicked about travel and family planning.

10 June
Comments Off on More political theater on school funding

More political theater on school funding

The Cap-Journal reports that House and Senate Democrats are circulating a petition and reaching out to Republicans in hopes of forcing a special legislative session on school equity funding. Their solution is to provide another $38 million for equity funding and allow the Governor to decide where to get the money.

Given that Democrats excoriated the state budget resolution that left Governor Brownback to decide what to cut, their equity proposal is rich with hypocrisy. Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka, the ranking Democrat on the Senate budget committee, said she believed the Senate shirked its constitutional duty to pass a balanced budget. Senator Kelly told the Lawrence Journal-World, I think it’s an abdication of our responsibility to put together a truly balanced budget.”

And so rises the curtain on this latest act of political theatre surrounding school funding.

If legislators want to spend more money, they should follow Senator Kellys advice and offer offsetting revenue increases or spending reductions. Their problem, however, is that they dont seem to have the appetite for either option. Theres been no support of budget balancing through spending reductions from Democrats and some Republicans. House Democrat Henry Helgerson introduced a bill back in February to close the so-called LLC Loophole, but it failed by 18 votes (House Sub for SB 63) with 24 Democrats and Republicans voting against it despite having said the so-called loophole should be closed.

So absent any real solutions, its now convenient to let the Governor find the money. Frankly, its a smart move on their part, since mainstream media likely wont call them on their hypocrisy.

I do believe the Governor should call a special session; not to spend more money, but to ensure that money flows to districts as scheduled and that no court deprives students of education or deprives school employees of paychecks. CJ advertising rules dont permit me provide a link, but search for Dont let the courts close schools on

10 June
Comments Off on Tax cuts, public works funding futures dark in Minnesota
09 June
Comments Off on LA Unified shortchanging funding for high-needs students, state says

LA Unified shortchanging funding for high-needs students, state says

State officials have ordered the Los Angeles Unified School District to spend hundreds of millions of more dollars on its highest-needs students, a move that is causing district officials to scramble in the last few weeks of their budget-making process.

The California Department of Education sided with advocates who calculated LA Unified shortchanged these vulnerable groups by $288 million this school year by, essentially, double-counting a large chunk of the funding it spent on special education services.

State officials project this “deficit” caused by the accounting practice will grow to $380 million next school year.

With just weeks left in the fiscal year, state education officials have ordered district officials to re-calculate its state-mandated plan for spending new funds to help low income, foster or English Learner students — all high-needs groups Californias new funding formula directs district to target — in the upcoming 2016-17 school year.

Late Friday, school board members announced theyd hold a special meeting in closed session on Tuesday, June 7, to discuss the situation.

LA Unified administrators say they plan to challenge the state’s ruling, perhaps even in court. With so much up in the air, district officials said they wouldnt go into detail about how radical or minimal the changes to the budget could be. 

“The decision by CDE will have to be part of the [budget] discussion, and it will create confusion, said attorney Greg McNair, LA Unified’s Chief Business amp; Compliance Counsel. But we haven’t had enough time to figure out exactly what that looks like.

He added  thatpublic hearings in the coming weeks on both the budget and its state-required Local Control Accountability Plan, where the district accounts for its spending on high-needs students, will likely feature discussion of the ruling.

Districts across California have received about $12.8 billion in additional funding over the past three years under the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula. The formula’s authors billed it as offering districts more flexibility spending the money, so long as districts could show the money was helping low income, foster and English Learner students — known as “unduplicated” students under the law.

The crux of the dispute is the large overlap between “unduplicated” kids and yet another group of vulnerable learners: special education students.

Roughly 84 percent of LA Unified students qualify as unduplicated.

But the formula doesn’t specifically call out special education students. Services for those students are funded by a different mix of state and federal dollars. Yet in LA Unified, 79 percent of the students who receive special education services also qualify as unduplicated students.

Since so many foster youth, low-income kids, and English Learners also received special education services, LA Unified contended that a large portion of the state funds it used to pay for special education ought to also count toward its spending on programs for unduplicated students.

But in their decision, state education officials called LA Unifieds reading of the funding formula as “strained.” They said district officials could only count special education spending on programs specifically geared toward foster youth, low-income kids and English Learners.

“They’re really denying new and improved services to high needs students across the district,” said John Affeldt, an attorney with the nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization Public Advocates. He served alongside the ACLU of Southern California as co-counsel for the complainants.

McNair argued the state’s decision renders the flexibility promised under the new funding formula moot and will likely harm the districts general education programming.

“If we wanted wanted to hire tutors for students who are unduplicated and do a special program for those students,” said McNair, if you took money out of the base program, where they might be taking algebra, and you take enough money out of the base program that you had to close algebra classes, then what what you’d be doing is buying yourself algebra tutors to tutor kids, but you don’t have algebra classes to put them in. That’s what we’re talking about here.”

“It’s not about the district depriving disadvantaged students of anything,” McNair added.

But Affeldt said the district has backed itself into a corner by failing to contain costs in other ways, saying they’ve agreed to increase staff salaries and benefits.

“Theyve gotten themselves into a corner where they’re trying to say, ‘We have to rob Peter to pay Paul and we don’t have the money for additional services for these high-needs students, so we should just be allowed to violate the law and not provide the additional services for high needs students.'”

“They’ve got other decisions,” Affeldt added, they need to face reality about.”

If LA Unified does not take the matter to court, district officials would have 35 days from the May 27 decision to ask state education officials to reconsider.

09 June
Comments Off on Fintech firm Vouch falls victim to funding climate: Report

Fintech firm Vouch falls victim to funding climate: Report

Another fintech start-up has run in to trouble. Online lender Vouch Financial is shutting down, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

Vouch let users get a personal loan, the magnitude and interest rate of which depended, in part, on having friends contribute a sponsorship to vouch for the borrower. Vouch is shuttering as recent headlines may have culled the crowd of willing financial technology investors, the Wall Street Journal reported.

One of the most prominent fintech companies, LendingClub, has been been the target of highly-publicized investigations in recent weeks, as both its CEO and several senior managers departed. Meanwhile, similar companies like Avant,On Deck Capital and Prosper Marketplace have also reportedly seen deteriorating loan volume, reorganization or tumbling share prices.

Vouch declined to comment to CNBC.

To be sure, Vouch was small relative to many of these companies, having raised just $9 million, according to CrunchBase.

But it all comes at a time when venture capital confidence has stayed tempered since late last year, according to a University of San Francisco report. At the same time, traditional banks have stepped up to compete better online.

For more on Vouchs demise, read the full Wall Street Journal report at

— CNBCs Jon Marino and Ari Levy contributed to this report.

08 June
Comments Off on UW leader Cross to seek 33% bump in student aid funding

UW leader Cross to seek 33% bump in student aid funding

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross this week will urge the Board of Regents to seek a 33% biennial boost in need-based financial aid from the state to help resident students better afford to attend a public university in Wisconsin.

While the governor and state lawmakers have frozen tuition for undergrad residents since 2013 in an attempt to reduce the growing burden of student loan debt, the state has not increased need-based financial aid funding for residents attending UW System institutions since 2010-11, according to Cross.

The proposed $19.15 million biennial increase if regents decide Thursday to advance the request would boost the current $58.3 million in state funding for the Wisconsin Grant program by 33%.

Asked whether Gov. Scott Walker would support raising financial aid to residents, spokesman Tom Evenson said specific details about UW System funding would be presented along with the governors budget proposal next year.

Gov. Walker is committed to keeping college affordable for students and the working families who help support them, which is why he froze tuition for four years across the UW System, Evenson said.

The goal is to return the amount of each students grant award to the 2009-10 level of $2,161, according to information provided to the regents ahead of their Thursday and Friday meetings at UW-Milwaukee.

One in four resident undergraduates received a Wisconsin Grant award in 2013-14, according to materials reviewed earlier this year by a UW System task force examining tuition-setting policies.

UW-Superior had the highest proportion of students receiving the Wisconsin Grant, followed by UW-Parkside, UW-Milwaukee and UW Colleges. UW-Madison had the fewest students receiving the need-based grant in 2013-14.

The UW System average cost of attendance increased by 16% between 2009-10 and 2014-15 from $17,015 to $19,702, according to the UW System.

At the same time, the average Wisconsin Grant awarded to students in the UW System decreased by 18% from $2,161 to $1,773 because the same amount of money had to be divided among more students, according to the UW System.

The number of Wisconsin Grant recipients at UW campuses increased by 28% between 2009-10 and 2014-15 from 25,624 recipients to 32,885 recipients.

More students qualified for the need-based grants than received them. The number of resident students eligible for state support increased from 28,132 in 2008-09 to 34,521 in 2014-15 an increase of 23%.

While one in four resident undergrads received a Wisconsin Grant in 2013-14, underrepresented minority students make up the largest group receiving some form of financial aid.

Of all African-American undergraduates enrolled in 2013-14 at a UW System campus, 93% demonstrated financial need as defined by the Federal Needs Analysis Methodology. That compared to 75% of students who identified as white/unknown.

The average loan debt of UW System resident undergrads at graduation was $30,452 in 2013-14.

To return average Wisconsin Grants to the 2009-10 level of $2,161 would require an increase of $6,384,100 in 2017-18 and an additional $6,384,100 in 2018-19, or a biennial increase of $19,152,300, according to the UW System.

State money makes up about 7% of all student financial aid in the UW System, and federal sources account for about 75%. The remaining financial aid is generated by campuses, private and community sources.

There are more variables in the equation than tuition alone, and we are committed to looking at every component as we help keep student debt loads down, Cross said. This includes a close examination of fees and other campus-driven costs.

Cross said in a blog post Monday that the UW System is focused on reducing the net cost of college.

07 June
Comments Off on Governor signs funding formula into law

Governor signs funding formula into law


A new funding formula is rolling out in Pennsylvania now thatGov. Tom Wolf signed the fair funding formula into law.

The formula will decide the distribution of new state basic education funds. Some district officials are pleased with the change.

I think it is fair because it doesnt take away funding from districts that are used to receiving it and have set expenses and structures, but likewise as we move forward, the newer districts that are growing who need more money will get that based on the new formula, said Dr. Charles Prijatelj, superintendent, Tuscarora School District.

Other district officials said it will hurt their funding.

If you spend less and tax less on a community basis, then the new formula will give you even less state funding, said Eric Holtzman, district business manager of the WaynesboroArea School District. So unfortunately, that would hurt, educationally, for our students. We will have to look at programs and look at funding levels and how do we fund that if the state is not willing to give us our fair share of funding.

The funding formula is based on many things, including the districts wealth and its ability to raise revenue. It is also based on three student factors, including low income students, children enrolled in charter schools and students who are English Language Learners.

It meets our needs, said Prijatelj. I know some of the other school districts are not fairing well and some districts are fairing better, but when you look at our ratio, our tax base in our community, I feel like it is appropriate.

Waynesboro Area School district officials said they are one of those schools who are not fairing as well as they are looking at a decrease in funding for the upcoming year.

About $170,000 just in this coming year – funding is a decrease as we would normally receive, Holtzmansaid. The downside of that is it is just the first year. Imagine four or five years in a row continuing to receive less money than our peers.

School officials said they will just have to wait to see what lawmakers decide with the upcoming budget, as Wolf is seeking additional education funding in the 2016-2017 budget, which would be distributed using the new formula.

Wolf said that prior to the law, Pennsylvania was one of only three states in the nation without a fair funding formula.

The 2015-2016 budget included a $200 million increase in basic education funding that will be distributed using the fair funding formula.

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