Friday, May 19, 2017

Logjam Breaking?  When I was pondering what to photo to post as a description of today's legislative activity, I thought of this:

But then the afternoon came and indications are that there will be movement on the part of the Legislature and it will be coming soon.  At a 4:15 press conference, legislative leadership outlined the framework of their proposal to the Governor and provided a rough vision of how they will be proceeding from this point forward.  Legislative leadership made it clear that negotiations with the Governor are on-going in hopes that agreements can be reached in the next day that will be agreed to by all parties.  The biggest concession made by the Legislature is in their decision to shave their tax cut proposal by nearly half a billion dollars down to $660 million.  The E-12 target mentioned at the press conference was $467 million, $164 million more than what was in the bill vetoed by the Governor earlier in the session.  A target of $467 million would accommodate a 2% increase on the basic formula in each of the next two years with approximately $90 million left for other initiatives.  Hopefully, the Legislature and the Governor will come to an agreement on helping correct the projected problems with the Teacher Retirement Association outside of the education budget, but the Governor did include $69 million in his budget for that purpose.  There wouldn't be room for much more and it would probably mean a stalemate on early education initiatives.  Too early to tell however.

A point of contention--and it's a pretty big point--is how policy will be handled in the coming negotiations.  The Governor has made it clear he is not particularly interested in policy changes and wants to basically stick to numbers.  The Legislature has a number of initiatives--both inside and outside the education realm--they would like to pass before the session ends.  The biggest education policy initiative pushed by the Legislature has been the teacher licensing changes in HF 140, which was vetoed by the Governor on Thursday.  It will be interesting to see how that issue is handled.  It is doubtful that there would be enough votes to override a gubernatorial veto (takes 91 votes in the House and 45 in the Senate), which would mean the language would have to be incorporated into whatever omnibus education bill that the Legislature would fashion.  Word on the street is the Governor would agree to the teacher licensure changes with a couple changes to the bill, but the mechanics could of getting this all to fit in the next three days could be tricky.

For your musical enjoyment, here's an oldie but goody that will describe the next three days because it's going to be a long train runnin'.  Lots of cars and lots of miles to be covered in 72 hours.

Be prepared for updates!

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