Good Way to Spend a Saturday. Hey! It was supposed to rain today, but here I am at the Capitol and my lawn escapes its weekly trimming. But anyway, the Legislature set its target for the E-12 bill last night at $400 million, which is still pretty low in comparison with the Governor's wishes. The Governor just concluded his press conference a few minutes with a pretty firm request--I think it will probably be framed as a demand--for a target of $550 million, which would include a 1.5% increase in the basic formula in each year of the biennium and $173 million for half-day pre-kindergarten programs. Could be a collision coming (understatement alert).
Meanwhile, the E-12 conference committee reconvened last night after legislative leadership set the budget committee targets and adopted a plethora of provisions deemed to be either the same or sufficiently similar to adopt without debate. The conference committee came in again this morning and tackled a few other provisions that weren't in both bills that were likewise deemed uncontroversial and adopted.
Things will be getting serious pretty quickly as the conference committee starts to cut up the $400 million pie into various slices. At $400 million, the slices aren't likely to be too big and as always the case, someone will leave the process unhappy.
I'll be providing updates throughout the day and sending out alerts by Twitter. So stay tuned. We're about 59 hours away from the constitutionally-mandated adjournment of the regular session and there's a lot of ground to cover. Legislative leadership has already decided to forego assembling omnibus tax and transportation bills and there are rumblings (probably not serious ones) that they could skip the education bill as well. Who is up for a little drama?