The House and Senate returned to Raleigh on Monday afternoon. The Senate voted not to concur on the House version of the budget, Monday night. Conferees were appointed by both the House and Senate on Tuesday and the big chairs began meeting behind closed doors to determine targets for the subcommittee chairs, to reconcile the budget differences in both funding and special provisions.
On Wednesday and Thursday, there were more than a dozen committee meetings with members working feverishly to pass bills, looking toward ending this short session in early July.
On Thursday, the Appropriations Chairs met with the subcommittee chairs in an open meeting to release the budget targets. As anticipated the education funding target of $10,768,361,626 is somewhere in between the Senate budget of $10,871,248,043 and the House budget of $10,685,416,387. The target is actually $102.8 million less than the Senate budget and $82.9 million more than the House. The education budget includes funding for all three entities, the universities, community colleges, and public schools. The House budget cut the universities more than 3.6 percent, while the Senate only cut them 0.45 percent. The public schools were cut 3.9 percent in the House and 3.5 percent in the Senate. The House budget reduced the number of line item cuts to public schools and used lottery proceeds to provide some of the additional funding for public schools as well as using funds the Senate provided to the universities. Rumors going around the building are that the House will end up putting money back in the universities budget to reduce the 3.6 percent cut approved in the House budget. Presidents Bowles wants $100 million back in his budget so he doesn’t have to reduce his courses (impacting his academic programs), lay off faculty, or limit enrollment. At this time it’s hard to say what will happen to public schools if they try and put that much money back in the universities budget. It is possible we could see some of the line item cuts return that were eliminated in the House budget. There was also talk around the building, that the fees of $22 million not included in the House budget, would be in the final budget, in an effort to increase revenue. Let the games begin. The next ten days will be crucial in trying to limit the cuts to public schools.
Meanwhile, the House and Senate budget writers are still grappling with the possible $500 million shortfall from the federal government of the Medicaid funds. They are going to have to come up with contingency plan should Congress fail to agree to appropriate these funds soon. The latest word on Thursday is that Congress is preparing to vote those funds out to the States, in the Jobs bill. This would be good news to NC and the other 34 states counting on these funds. Hopefully, there will be movement in this legislation soon so NC does not have to consider further budget cuts.
The budget schedule calls for the subcommittees to work and provide their recommendations to the Appropriations chairs next week, probably on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then the Chairs will meet the through next week and into the following week to work out the unresolved differences. The calendar shows the Conference Report being adopted on Tuesday, June 29th. While the budget process is proceeding on schedule, legislators will keep their bills moving through the committee process.
On Thursday morning, the Joint Legislative Education Oversight met in a specially called meeting to receive a report from Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton on the work of the JOBS Commission. The JOBS Commission has requested passage of eight bills from their work over the past 10 months. There were several students who spoke on the incredible value of the Early College programs and the difference it has made in their lives. There were also many supporters of the work of the JOBS Commission in attendance at the meeting.
Late next week you may see an early DRAFT conference report on the budget for public schools, which may give you an idea of the direction of the final conference report, though it will still be a DRAFT. Hang in there we are going to be moving pretty fast, as we near the fiscal year deadline of July 1, 2010.
HB 1753 School Bus Railroad Crossing Exception (Craven County-one RR crossing)-Favorable Report and sent to Judiciary III.
HB 1782 Consolidated Report/Early Care and Education Favorable Report and sent to Appropriations.
HB 1784 Consolidate Payments/Early Care and Education Favorable Report and sent to Appropriations.
HB 1757 Physical Education and Activity in Schools Favorable Report to Proposed Committee substitute and sent to Education.
HB 1728 Carteret Schools May Administer Oath Favorable Report.
HB 1264 Cherokee School Board Terms Favorable Report.
HB 1676 Substitute Teacher Unemployment Favorable Report and sent to the floor.
HB 1682 Corporal Punishment and Children with Disabilities Favorable Report and sent to the floor.
HB1973 Extend Various Economic Sunsets Favorable Report to Proposed Committee Substitute and re-referred to Finance.
HB 1730 Authorize State Risk Pool to Administer Federal Risk Pool Favorable Report.
Pensions and Retirement:
HB 2054 Retirement Technical Corrections Favorable Report
HB 1669 Require Use EVAAS in Schools Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 1676 Substitute Teacher Unemployment Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
HB 1682 Corporal Punishment and Children with Disabilities Passed second and third reading and sent to the Senate.
SB 1117 Consolidated Report/Early Care and Education Favorable Report.
SB 1118 Consolidate Payments/Early Care and Education Favorable Report.
SB 1119 Consolidate Regulation/Early Care and Education Pulled.
HB 1683 Amend Sunset/Children w/Disabilities Favorable Report.
SB 1172 Fair Tax Penalties Discussed.
SB 1117 Consolidated Report/Early Care and Education Passed second and third reading.
HB 1683 Amend Sunset/Children w/Disabilities Passed second and third reading.
What’s Up Next Week
HB 1879 Study Raising the Compulsory Attendance Age.
HB 2029 Amend Tenure Law: Re: Teacher RIFs.
SB 1198 Education Cabinet Establish STEM Priority
SB 1199 NC Biotechnology and Agriscience School
SB 1201 Add’l Flexibility/Cooperative Innovative High School
SB 1202 Career Academy as Cooperative Innovative High School
HB 1669 Require Use of EVAAS in Schools
HB 1684 No High School Graduation Project Required.