Monday, May 12, 2008

Change of Plans. In a departure from previously-announced intentions, the legislative leadership has decided to pull all of the education funding provisions out of HF 1812--the omnibus budget reconciliation bill--and fold them into a different bill--HF 6--that will be passed separately. This new direction was undertaken on Sunday evening, at a meeting of the conference committee on HF 1812 and a subsequent committee joint meeting of the House and Senate education leadership where the new plan was formally discussed.

Originally, it was expected that HF 6 would be taken up on Monday, but at this late hour (it is now just past 10 PM), it appears more likely that it will be on the floors of the House and Senate respectively on Tuesday. The bill, as previously described, contains the following as its major provisions:
  • $51 per pupil unit in one-time funding.
  • A two-year freeze in Q-comp expansion
  • A one-time fund transfer of up to $51 per pupil unit from total operating capital to the general fund.
  • Increased pre-kindergarter screening revenue.
  • Increased money for the school milk program.

There are a couple of possible problems with this strategy. First, the Legislature is running low on legislative days. Today (Monday) is the 114th legislative day, leaving only six days left. Because no bills can be passed on the last day of the biennium, there are technically only five remaining days on which bills can be passed. Further, if the bill is not to the Governor by Tuesday evening, there will be next to no chance to constitutionally override a gubernatorial veto (again, because the Governor can hold the bill for three business days and no laws can be passed next Monday if that is the last day of the session). If a bill comes to the Governor in the last three days of the session, he does not have to announce his intentions until ten days to two weeks after the session adjourns. All this gets a bit complicated, but let's just say "time's a wastin'!"

Edit: The Senate discussed HF 6 for a bit tonight although the conference committee report is not in their possession. Yes, that's right, this is a conference committee report. The legislature took the bill from an expired conference committee and revived it, amended in the funding provisions from HF 1812, and sent it to the House floor.

Policy Bill Fate Decided Tomorrow. The Governor must pass judgment on SF 3001, the 2008 education policy bill by the end of the day tomorrow. It is expected that he will veto the bill due to provisions related to the school report card that he finds objectionable. If the bill is vetoed as expected, an attempt at an override is likely, but the prospects for such an effort are not bright. What is likely to happen in the wake of a failed veto override is the use of several education-related bills that remain on the House and Senate floors that have not received final consideration for vehicles for some of the less controversial issues contained in SF 3001.

In other words, "Fun, fun, fun, until Daddy takes the T-Bird away." Love those Beach Boys! Some of the most profound lyrics in the history of rock and roll.

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