Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Recap from Yesterday.  The House and Senate omnibus education funding bills passed their respective hurdles yesterday, although (as reported yesterday morning) the Senate bill took a more serpentine path to approval in the Senate Finance Committee.

After the Senate Finance Committee passed an amendment on a 10-9 vote to delay implementation of the teacher evaluation process by one year, things kind of fell apart and the debate disintegrated considerably.  There were several attempts to re-refer the bill back to the Education Policy Committee, but those efforts were not successful.  Then, there was some concern expressed about the lack of fiscal notes for several provisions in the bill.  Fiscal notes are prepared for individual bills as they move through the legislative process, but when those individual measures are incorporated into the omnibus bills, the fiscal tracking sheet that shows the proposed appropriation level for each program within the bill has traditionally served as the fiscal note.  That explanation wasn't enough for some members, which extended the debate to an extent the committee had to recess so legislators could go to floor session.

After the floor session concluded, the Finance Committee re-convened.  There was an attempt to reconsider the amendment to delay implementation of the teacher evaluation process.  That attempt failed on a tie vote and after that, there was brief debate and the bill passed on a voice vote.  It will now be up in the Tax Committee later this week (Friday likely).

The House Tax Committee approved the House omnibus education funding bill with very little debate.  At these hearings, the debate is usually limited to portions of the bill that is under the jurisdiction of the committee considering the bill.  In other words, the Tax Committee was only looking at the tax policy contained in the bill.  This took all of about five minutes.  It kind of went like this:  (1) Integration Levy re-established?  Check.  (2) Referendum Equalizing Factor increased to ensure bill doesn't create property tax increase?  Check.  (3)  Anything else?  Nope. Then I guess we'll recommend the bill to pass and send it to the Ways and Means Committee.  And that was that.

The House bill's next stop will be the House Ways and Means Committee with the hearing scheduled for Thursday, April 18, at 10 AM.

No comments: