2010 LEGISLATIVE SESSION MEMO #4

The House Democrats returned to Raleigh to caucus at 6:00PM on Monday.  The Appropriations chairs met afterward to review the draft final version of their budget. The Senate did not return until Tuesday for Committee meetings. The Senate is focusing on passing bills, while the House spent the week completing their version of the budget.

On Wednesday, the House met in full Appropriations at 9:00AM and began the meeting with an overview of the budget from Committee chairs. After they completed the review they began addressing (voting) on more than 60 amendments. Many of the amendments passed, some failed, some were ruled out–of-order and some others were pulled, possibly to return on the House floor on Thursday. They finally finished their work late in the afternoon and would read the bill in Wednesday and have it on the House floor for second reading, more amendments, and further debate, on Thursday.

The major K-12 funding differences between the House and Senate include the following:

  • Central Office cut reduced in House.
  • Assistant Principal cut eliminated in House.
  • Instructional Support Personnel cut eliminated in House.
  • At-Risk Allotment eliminated in House.
  • Textbook Funding of $5 million in House.
  • NCCAT cut eliminated in House.
  • Minor additional small items added (i.e. kids voting, diversity commission) in House.
  • Dropout Grants eliminated in Senate.
  • Hand-held Technology devices funded in Senate.

Overall the Public schools were cut 2.98 percent by the Senate and 3.93 percent by the House while Community Colleges were increased by 5.01 percent in Senate and 3.61 percent in the House and Universities were funded 0.37 percent in the Senate and cut 3.46 percent in the House. The funding cut to the Universities and the use of lottery funds to offset additional K-12 cuts are two of the major issues that will confront the budget chairs in the House and Senate as they work to resolve their differences. One other note is the House added another $20 million in funding to the Retirement System (total $40 million). This increased the Salary related contributions by employer percentage from 10.71 percent to 10.92 percent, with the 0.21 percent increase going to the retirement system.

The other major issue in the House budget is the FMAP (Federal Medicaid allocation). Congress has not approved the funding to the States for this program. North Carolina was anticipating and has budgeted for $500 million in federal funding for the 2010-2011 session.  The budget writers are anticipating the federal government will approve this allocation prior to the completion of the work on the budget, however if they do not it is expected they will have some language in the budget or technical corrections bill to return to Raleigh to get the state budget back into balance. In other words they will need to find some or all of the missing $500 million in federal funds.

On Thursday, the House heard the budget bill on second reading beginning at 10:00AM and took amendments (30) until late in the afternoon, when they passed the bill down party lines. Some of the amendments impacted the education budget. They included removing the Probationary Teachers provision, the Construction non-bid provision, and the transfer of funds from Geometry testing to instructional supplies in public schools. They also managed to pass several other amendments one in particular eliminated the state tests for Physical Science, U.S. History, and Civics and Economics, and transferred those funds to instructional supplies. One other major amendment provided funding to the Career and Technical Education program by adding $4,055,245 to their allotment. Representative Stam tried to run an amendment to provide tax credits to families who pay to send their child(ren) to private school, but the amendment was ruled out-of-order and despite his motion to suspend the rules (motion defeated), the amendment was not allowed to be heard.  The second reading vote was 62-55 with four Democrats voting against the budget as well as all the Republicans present and voting. They returned to the Chamber at 12:01AM on Friday to vote on third reading (63-49) and sent the budget bill back to the Senate for concurrence. The Senate will vote not to concur on Monday, next week, when they return, and then both bodies will appoint budget conferees to resolve the differences. The conferees are usually the chairs of the subcommittees and some additional subcommittee members.

On Thursday, the Senate completed their debate on a bond bill for projects at the Universities, repair of state and Community College assets and investment in research and job training equipment for higher education. The debate on incurring indebtedness, without a vote of the people, was contentious. The continuing bond debt for NC poses future budget problems and raised the ire of the Republicans in the Senate. After much debate the Senate approved SB 1378 “Build North Carolina’s Future” and sent it to the House for consideration.

The House and Senate budget conferees are expected to begin meeting early next week. Everyone remains optimistic they will complete their work before July 1, but one of the major differences in the education portion of the budget is the use of the lottery funds to minimize the cuts to public schools.

Stay tuned for updates on the negotiations and the standing bills that will be moving out of committees quickly over the next few weeks, before they adjourn this short session.

House Committees

Education:

HB 1669 Require Use EVAAS in Schools Favorable Report

HB 1676 Substitute Teacher Unemployment Favorable Report

HB 1725 School Support Divisions Changes Favorable Report

HB 1777 Study Child Nutrition Program Favorable Report

HB 1781 Study/Early Childhood Education and Care Favorable Report

HB 1864 No High School Graduation Project Required Favorable Report

Appropriations

SB 897 Appropriations Act of 2010 Passed second and third reading and sent back to the Senate for Concurrence.

House Floor

SB 897 Appropriations Act of 2010 Passed second and third reading and sent back to the Senate for Concurrence.

HB 1669 Require Use EVAAS in Schools Postponed to 6.8.10

HB 1676 Substitute Teacher Unemployment Favorable Report

HB 1725 School Support Divisions Changes Favorable Report

HB 1777 Study Child Nutrition Program Favorable Report

HB 1781 Study/Early Childhood Education and Care Favorable Report

HB 1864 No High School Graduation Project Required Favorable Report

Senate Committees

Health

HB 1707 SHP/Age-Out Dependents; Tobacco Use Testing Favorable Report

Education

HB 1140 Education Assistance for Minimum Wage Workers Favorable Report

HB 1176 Reorganize Schools with High School Dropouts Favorable Report and re-referred to Appropriations.

HB 1141 Task Force on Sports Injuries in Schools Favorable Report

HB 1246 Four-year Cohort Graduation Rate Favorable Report

HB 1248 Early Identification & Intervention for At-Risk Students Favorable Report as amended. The amendment only requires certification by the LEA to the State Board on requirements of the law.

HB 1264 Cherokee School Board Terms Favorable Report

SB 1359 Amend Highlands Scholarship Fund Favorable Report

HB 636 School Calendar Changes for Inclement Weather Favorable Report to the proposed committee substitute that allows three counties to complete either 180 days or 1,000 hours in the school calendar for 2009-2010 only.

Senate Floor

HB 1707 SHP/Age-Out Dependents; Tobacco Use Testing Passed second and third reading.

HB 1140 Education Assistance for Minimum Wage Workers Passed second and third reading.

HB 1141 Task Force on Sports Injuries in Schools Passed second and third reading.

HB 1246 Four-year Cohort Graduation Rate Passed second and third reading.

HB 1248 Early Identification & Intervention for At-Risk Students Passed second reading.

HB 1264 Cherokee School Board Terms Passed second reading.

HB 636 School Calendar Changes for Inclement Weather PCS changes title to School Calendar Flexibility/Inclement Weather Passed second and third reading and sent back to the House.

SB 1378 Build North Carolina’s Future Act Passed second and third reading.

What’s Up Next Week

HB 1753 School Bus Railroad Crossing exception

HB 1782 Consolidated Report/Early Care& Education

HB 1784 Consolidate Payments/Early Care and Education Provider

HB 1884 Amend SEAA (State Education Assistance Authority) Board Membership

HB 1757 Physical Education and Activity in Schools

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