Monday started with the Wake Delegation meeting where constituents were invited to come and speak on any issues of concern. Next we met with Representative Blue and other groups to discuss HB 1054 Safe Schools Act. This was a bill being run by NCAE. They are attempting to put policy language into the public school law. We tried to discuss options on the bill for almost two hours and eventually the meeting ended. NCAE is the only group supporting the bill, while more than nine other groups are opposing it.
On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education met to discuss the budget for the Department of Public Instruction and PreK Programs. On Wednesday, the Committee reviewed the Community College System and Public School Testing and Accountability. On Thursday, the Committee met to discuss the UNC University System.
Senate Finance ran a series of bills out of Committee, on Tuesday, giving more authority to the Treasurer for investments and authorizes the State Board to access some of the Recovery funds for school construction bonds. The House and Senate leaders were called to the Governor’s office for a 9:00 AM meeting where they were told she was going to sign another Executive Order to get funds to make the April payroll. The she held a press conference at 11:00 where she told the Media she was going to require all employees who are paid with State funds to have their annual salary cut by 0.5 percent (by June 30th) and as a result of these cuts employees would receive 10 hours of furlough time to be taken between June 1 and December 31. This was the beginning of chaos for all the education groups and school systems, state employees and anyone else paid with State funds. The Executive Order was interpreted in multiple different ways by the Media and only after many press releases the Order was revised to clarify the intent of the Governor. The confusion in the Order was it read to cut the salary and require 10 hours of furlough without pay. The rules for the leave will be developed by the State Board of Education, for public schools and will be approved next week at their monthly meeting. The teachers will likely have to take the leave on workdays and those who do not have a job after June 30 will lose the pay without getting the ten hours of leave (unless they can get it in June). Most teachers in the State only have the May paycheck left from which the funds can be taken, while all other employees have May and June. Most of Tuesday afternoon was spent trying to resolve the Executive Order. The State is still trying to get through the remainder of the fiscal year and the funds are running short. This salary cut will garner $65 million in savings for the State, and it is believed this will not be the last of the furloughs issue as we move into the 2009-2010 Budget. The House held their public hearing Tuesday evening for three hours and though it was long many people attended to voice their concerns with the budget writers. The House Appropriations Chairs are continuing to meet behind closed doors reviewing the Senate budget and still waiting for an update from Revenue on the State collections. They are hoping to have better numbers next week to give to the subcommittees and get moving on the House budget to complete it by May 22 or so.
On Wednesday, The UNC Basketball Team was scheduled for recognition in the Senate and House so both chambers convened around Noon and it created quite a stir in the building. Senate Education met for the first time since the passing of Senator Malone. Senator Stevens took the podium and the committee began hearing bills. Senator Alberston began with his bill, SB1028 Establish Community Achievement Network (Can Doer), which ran into immediate trouble with Republicans and Democrats alike. After a vigorous debate, the votes were counted and the Chairman declared a tie, which meant the bill failed to pass for lack of a majority. The bill requiring school personnel, other than teachers, to spend time during the instructional day in the classroom was also discussed. Senator Stein wanted to amend the bill to define the instructional day as eight hours, but he never got a chance to run the amendment. Senator Tillman wanted to amend the bill to delete the word shall and replace it with the word may. Senator Hartsell has run this bill for the past five years with various iterations and it has not been enacted yet. Today would be no exception as the members argued back and forth for the remainder of the Committee meeting. Finally, Senator Rucho made a motion for a Favorable Report and then Senator Rand made a motion to adjourn. The motion to adjourn superseded the earlier motion and the committee voted to adjourn. Not one bill passed Senate Education, so we will see what happens next week. There are a little more than two weeks left before the Crossover Deadline (May 14). Later on Wednesday the Senate Mental Health and Youth Services Committee met to pass the Senate bill SB 508 School Violence Prevention act (bullying bill) and HB 88 Healthy Youth Act (comprehensive sex education instruction). The meeting was called about two hours prior and many people were unaware these two bills were getting ready to move. They were read in Thursday and should be on the Senate calendar for a vote on Monday next week.
On Thursday, House Judiciary II met to discuss HB 1476 Government Immunity/Adequacy of Remedies and ultimately received a Favorable Report. There are a few changes that need to be made to the bill, but Speaker Blue has agreed and we expect to see an amendment on the House floor next week. Next the House Education subcommittee on Pre-School, Elementary and Secondary met to handle of series of bills. Action listed below. Things are ratcheting up as we get closer to May 14. Sometimes, committee’s are meeting twice a day and after session. There is also discussion that the deadline may be moved to May 28th.
The House Appropriations Chairs are seeing the early budget (revenue) numbers. The numbers may be as high as fifteen-twenty percent below last year’s State funding availability. Rumors are the number is around $17 Billion, while last year the budget (including additional revenue) was $21.35 Billion. This will mean that additional revenues will be needed beyond the Federal Recovery funds, and major cuts to try and balance the budget. In late news Thursday, word began spreading fast that the Governor needed another $41 million from public schools funds. With the end of the school year approaching this will mean another reversion of $4 million for Wake and this coupled with the 0.5 percent cut to salaries, this week, is just another blow to public schools. We still have another two payrolls and forty-five days of school, what is the plan to handle these last sixty days in the fiscal year?
HB 1549 Limit General Fund Expenditures
HB 1552 Study Consolidation of State Scholarships
HB 899 Limit Foods in School Vending Machines Pulled from the Agenda
HB 900 Nutrition Standards/All Foods Sold at School Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute and sent to the House Floor.
HB 1054 Safer Schools Pulled from the Agenda
HB 1078 Report School Violence to LEA Office Favorable Report This bill requires schools to report to the Superintendent within in two business days, when law enforcement is called to address an issue.
HB 1089 Study Social Workers in Schools Favorable Report
Education Subcommittee on Pre-School, Elementary and Secondary Education:
HB 285 Salary Increase for Substitute Teachers Favorable Report and re-referred to Appropriations.
HB 707 Legislative Study of ABC Bonus Program Favorable Report as amended. The amendment adds an additional component.
HB 717 Study of High School Programs at Community College Favorable Report and re-referred to Rules.
HB 901 Honors Courses in Health & P.E. Classes Favorable Report as amended. The title was changed to delete Health and add Healthful Living. Lengthy discussion on whether this was a good ideas, since these classes may not be academically challenging, but physically challenging.
HB 1032 Modify History and Geography Curricula Favorable Report to the Proposed Committee Substitute as amended to include instruction in North Carolina History in middle school.
HB 1036 Self-Contained Special Ed/Grade Levels Pulled from the agenda.
HB 841 Statutory Changes for ARRTA Funds Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute and re-referred to Appropriations. The title of the bill was changed to Changes for Bonds Authorized under ARRTA.
HB 1121 Create Active Living Communities Commission Favorable Report and re-referred to Appropriations.
HB 1433 Clarify Volunteer Immunity/AED Favorable Report
HB 1134 Open Government Act Favorable Report
HB 1476 Government Immunity/Adequacy of Remedies Favorable Report and sent to House Floor. The legislation will be amended to include a change in the language from full recovery to fair compensation and to add sovereign immunity with existing language of government immunity.
HB 827 Unattended Children in Vehicles Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute and re-referred to Ways and Means.
HB 1471 Counties & Schools Share P.E. Equipment Favorable Report and sent to the House Floor.
HB 316 Assignment of Twins to Charter Schools Favorable Report
HB 1329 Consolidate Expunction Statutes Favorable Report
HB 1416 Children of Incarcerated Parents Study Favorable Report and re-referred to Rules.
Pensions and Retirement:
HB 642 Retirement Technical Corrections Favorable Report and re-referred to Appropriations.
HB 934 Local Employees’ Retirement System COLAs Favorable Report and re-referred to Finance.
HB 1221 Develop State Employee Benefits Statement Favorable Report and sent to the House Floor.
State Government/State Personnel:
HB 213 SPA Sick Leave Transfers Favorable Report
HB 708 Furlough of State Employees Pulled from the Agenda
HB 735 Building Code/High Schoolers at Community Colleges-Favorable Report
SB 1028 Encourage Volunteerism in Schools-Title changed to Establish Community Achievement Network (CAN DOER). Lengthy discussion. The motion for a Favorable Report resulted in a tie and a tie means the bill fails for lack of a majority.
SB 406 Classroom Experience for School Personnel Lengthy discussion on the issue. No vote was taken as the motion to adjourn superseded the motion for a Favorable Report.
SB 16 DPI/Curriculum on 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Not Heard
SB 1019 Establish North Carolina Financial Literacy Council Not Heard
SB 68 No ABC Establishments W/I 1,000 ft. of Schools-Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute.
SB 754 Statutory Change for ARRTA Funds Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute. Title changed to Changes for Bonds Authorized under ARRTA.
HB 2 Prohibit Smoking in Public & Workplaces Favorable Report
Mental Health & Youth Services:
SB 526 School Violence Prevention Act (Bullying bill) Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute and sent to the floor.
HB 88 Healthy Youth Act (Comprehensive Sex Education in schools) Favorable Report
HB 205 Lottery Act Changes Passed second and third reading as amended and sent to the Senate.
HB 442 Parent Involvement in School Discipline Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 1471 Counties & Schools Share P.E. Equipment Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 900 Nutrition Standards/All Foods Sold at School Passed second reading with an amendment taking out the word ”vending machines” and remains on the calendar.
HB 1221 Develop State Employee Benefits Statement Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
SB 754 Changes for Bonds Authorized under ARRTA Passed second reading and remains on the calendar.
Bills in Committee Next Week
HB 223 No High School Graduation Project Required
HB 661 City Managers on School Board
HB 804 Amend Law Re: Personal Education Plans
HB 971 Legislative Study of Alternative Schools
HB 1031 Building Standards/Pre-K Classes in Public Schools
HB 1038 Economic Development Thru Innovative Schools/Commission
HB 191 General Statutes Commission Technical Corrections
HB 193 Electronic Notice of Public Hearings
HB 1046 Child Care Facilities Rules
HB 1470 Study Length of School Lunch Period
SB 567 Promote Electricity Demand Reduction
SB 386 Make the Best Use of Corporate Tax Revenue
SB 722 No High School Graduation Project Required
SB 738 Diabetes Control Plans in Charters Schools
SB 406 Classroom Experience for School Personnel
SB 1019 Establish NC Financial Literacy Council
SB 1030 After-School Child Care Program
House Education Appropriations Committee will discuss Non-Profits on Tuesday.