The special session was called at 12:01 AM and the budget-reconciliation package was expected to be the only piece of legislation discussed. In order for any bill to be passed the same day it is introduced--regular or special session--is for the rules to be suspended. The reason for this is that a bill can only get a reading once per day without a rules suspension. All bills must have three readings in each house and those readings are given when the bill is: (1) introduced and given a number, (2) when it comes out of its last committee, and (3) when it is voted on for the final time on the floor of a chamber. The process is then repeated in the second chamber.
After passing the budget reconciliation bill, Representative Greiling moved to suspend the rules (which requires a two-thirds vote). The motion garnered 85 votes, five votes short of the 90 necessary to suspend the rules.
This is really unfortunate and I didn't get a good reason from anyone why the Republicans voted en masse to oppose the motion. It is rumored that some were ticked off because of the way the budget deal fell together, but there was really nothing in this bill worth opposing at this juncture. The contents of the bill were very non-controversial and the only thing that even approached any measure of concern was a provision relating to testing and the fact that a cut score was not established in the end-of-course testing requirements for math (I need to get clarification on that provision, so don't take that one to the bank).
As reported last evening, the only changes to education funding in the budget balancing bill was the change in the forecast number for the debt service equalization program and the adjustment of the shift from 73%/27% to 70%/30% for the next fiscal year. The shift was not codified and will be discussed again next session in--guess what?--the 2011 budget balancing bill.
I hope to be using the blog a lot this summer. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions or issues you think the blog can help address for your district or the organization as a whole.