September 16, 2022

Aggregate Expenditure Limit Overview

The school spending cap known as the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL) is once again threatening the new investments the legislature and governor made to K-12 education.

This time around the projected amount in jeopardy is $1.3 billion.

To re-cap, the AEL is a limit on how much K-12 schools can spend in a school year. It was passed by voters in 1980 and sets a spending cap for all public schools based on attendance and inflation (it excludes charter schools since they didn’t exist in 1980). Read more about the AEL and its history.

The AEL is an antiquated measure that does not account for modern day school finance or the needs of schools, which now include more technology, student supports and a higher cost of doing business than in 1980.

This year the legislature approved some significant budget increases for K-12 schools to better support students with special needs and low-income students. It also included more funding in the base that schools can use for things such as increasing teacher pay. However, schools may not be able to spend all of that funding because of uncertainty with the AEL.

Imagine being approved for a specific budget passed by the legislature, but then told you may not be able to spend it unless two-thirds of the legislature votes again?

Schools have planned their budgets with the new budget figures, but don’t trust that they will be allowed to spend the funding that’s already been given to them. This means they could hesitate on increasing teacher salaries or increasing supports for low-income students until the funding is confirmed.

The legislature should address the AEL as soon as possible to allow schools to move forward with their existing budgets and eliminate the uncertainty they are feeling today.

The longer the AEL sits unaddressed, the greater the anxiety level will be not just for schools, but also for the business and community leaders across the state who care about this issue. In February, 210 of these leaders agreed that the AEL should be addressed.

This is funding that has already been approved for our schools. Shouldn’t schools be able to spend it?

Join us in taking action to ask the legislature and the Governor to fix the AEL.

Read Our Past Resources on the AEL: