The Appropriations Chairs came back to Raleigh to begin meeting again at 11:00 AM on Monday. The State Board of Education Appointments were voted on Monday evening. The three members were Wayne McDevitt, Patricia Willoughby, and new member, Reginald Kenan. Their terms are for eight years. Budget talks were still moving in the back room (612), though they did not appear to be making much progress.
Tuesday began with Committee meetings and more bills. The number of bills being heard has begun to dwindle dramatically. Budget Chairs began hearing from the Education subcommittee chairs, but requested more information and planned to return to Education later Tuesday after Session. According to rumors Central Office is still cut more than 12 percent ($14.1 Million), but the Mentor cut, which was 50 percent, has been minimized to less than 20 percent ($9.2 Million funded). They are still working on class size with the House fighting to increase class size in Grades 4-7 by two students and the Senate wanting a larger increase. The House spent several hours in Session on Tuesday arguing over the Racial Justice Act and by the time the House adjourned the Senate had left for the day, so no further work on the budget. The House also voted not to concur in the Senate Continuing Resolution which was sent over Monday night. The Senate had no end date and the House wanted to put July 31 in the CR. The Senate also reduced the spending amount to 84 percent of last year’s budget.
On Wednesday, the House and Senate conferees met on the CR, agreed to the date, and planned to vote on the bill in both the House and Senate during their Sessions. The Budget Chairs began to work early on Wednesday, but ended their work around Noon. The Senate went into Session at 2:00 PM while the House did not convene until 3:00 PM. They both had very long calendars with more than 20-30 bills each. There has been little talk about the Finance meetings, except that it does not appear they are making much progress. The rumor Wednesday was the Senate recommended reducing the finance package to $500 million from the originally agreed upon $990 million and make up the rest in cuts. Needless to say the House rejected this offer and the Budget Chairs kept on working. They did not meet Wednesday evening, as the Senate members had their annual Love Feast.
On Thursday, the House and Senate Appropriations Chairs and Finance Chairs continued their meetings. The Appropriations Chairs are making progress on several of the subcommittee’s areas, but they have not resolved education yet. The plan is that they will continue to work through the weekend in hopes of getting some agreement. We are still working on the bus tort claim’s issue, that will just not go away. The other talk around the building Thursday was a letter distributed by NCAE to its members. The letter criticized the Senate Appropriations Chairs for their lack of commitment to public schools and their efforts to appropriate monies to the Universities, instead of maintaining class size and supporting teachers. The letter was quite explicit and resulted in the Senate Chairs calling NCAE to a meeting to discuss the letter on Thursday afternoon. The meeting was brief and there was little said. Senator Rand reportedly told NCAE the cuts to public schools were due to the need for funding in Medicaid. The Finance and Appropriations Chairs met into Thursday evening and returned on Friday. The word late Thursday was the Bus Tort Claims provision was gone from the budget. They appear to be making progress and it’s possible they will be able to finish their negotiations next week and approve the final budget the last week in July.
The train is back on the track again, let’s hope it stays there.
SB 1028 Volunteers to Support Academic Success in School Favorable Report to PCS and sent to the Senate Floor.
SB 509 Revenue Laws Technical, Clarifying & Admin. Changes Favorable Report to PCS as amended.
SB 931 Commercial Drivers License Changes Favorable Report to PCS with a technical amendment added.
SB 929 No Set Aside of Bond Forfeit/Actual Notice Favorable Report and sent to the House Floor.
HB 1289 No Lottery at Check Cashing Sites Favorable Report to PCS and sent to the Senate Floor. Name changed to Lottery-No Check Cashing Sites/High School Ads
HB 1261 Protect Our Kids/Cyber Bullying Misdemeanor PCS discussed. No Vote Taken
HB 1134 Open Government Act Passed third reading and sent to Senate Judiciary I.
HJR 364 State Board of Education Confirmations Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 385 Public School Activity Bus Use/Stecoah Valley Withdrawn
HB 81 Notice of Special/Emergency Meetings Concurred in Senate PCS.
HB 804 Amend Law Regarding Personal Education Plans Failed to Concur, Conferees appointed.
SB 929 No Set Aside of Bond Forfeit/Actual Notice Passed second and third reading in House PCS and sent back to the Senate
HB 1504 Continuing Budget Authority Failed to Concur. Conferees appointed. Conference Report Approved. Ratified.
SB 1028 Volunteers to Support Academic Success in School Calendar Passed second and third reading in House PCS and sent back to the Senate.
HJR 364 State Board of Education Confirmations Passed second and third reading and signed by the Governor.
HB 1452 Local Government Code of Ethics Withdrawn from Calendar.
HB 205 Lottery Act Changes Passed second and third reading roll call vote.
HB 1255 Sex Offenders/Permanent No Contact Order Passed second and third reading and sent to the House for concurrence.
HB 1433 Clarify Volunteer Immunity/AED Passed second and third reading as amended and sent to the House for concurrence.
SB 65 Amend Computer Solicitation of Child Senate Concurred and Ratified.
SB 708 Amend the Compulsory School Attendance Law Failed to Concur Conferees appointed. Technical change required.
SB 1069 Joining Our Businesses and Schools Commission Concurred and Ratified.
HB 1289 No Lottery at Check Cashing Sites. Name changed to Lottery-No Check Cashing Sites/High School Ads Withdrawn from Calendar.
Bills in Committee Next Week
HB 1274 State Health Plan Blue Ribbon Task Force
SB 894 UI/School Teacher Related Amendments