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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 31, 2019

NCSBA Legislative Update – May 31, 2019

Senate Budget

The State budget process is like a four-quarter game if you will. We have reached the midpoint, or halftime. The House passed its version of the spending plan in the first quarter, and the Senate passed its proposal in the second quarter today. The third quarter is when House and Senate budget writers come together to create a compromise budget to send to the Governor. And you guessed it, Governor Cooper owns the fourth quarter. The end of regulation occurs on the day that Governor Cooper signs the bill, uses the veto stamp, or allows time to run out without taking action, which would cause the budget to automatically become law. Based on the odds in Vegas, pundits predict that this game is headed for overtime as a result of a budget veto. Below are the statistics from the second quarter.

 

We have updated our list of Senate budget provision summaries that affect K-12 education and included page numbers where each provision can be found in the most recently published version of the Senate budget (linked below). Note that these page numbers are subject to change following the Senate’s passage of the final version of its budget proposal today. Click here to view our Senate budget provision summaries.

Click here to view our summary of Senate budget appropriations.

 

The following are versions as amended by the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee on Wednesday, May 29:

 

School Capital Senate Budget Provision

As was reported to you earlier this week, the Senate version budget bill includes a special provision (Section 7.48, pg. 55) that eliminates the ability for a local board of education to take their county commission to court over capital needs. NCSBA had planned to have an amendment run on the Senate floor to remove this provision from the Senate bill. We knew the likelihood of this amendment passing was not great and that our real work is to make sure it is not in conference report. After our sponsor had the amendment drafted, he consulted with us as to whether we really wanted to run the amendment because we ran the risk of triggering a Senate rule that until this session has not been used to anyone’s memory. The rule is:

After an amendment has been tabled or defeated on the Senate floor, the contents of such amendment or the principal provisions of its subject matter shall not be embodied in any other measure.

You might recall media coverage about this rule in the discussion over Medicaid expansion after an amendment was defeated on the Senate floor earlier this session. To read more about this click here.

Thus, the NCSBA Governmental Relations staff made the decision to not have the amendment considered and not run the risk of forcing the Senate leadership to insist under their rules that the provision had to be included.

During the Senate budget debate, an amendment on Medicaid expansion was ruled out of order and several other amendments were withdrawn because of the rule.

It is going to be critical that you communicate with all members of your legislative delegation about this provision. The following are talking points:

  • This Provision has absolutely nothing to do with the state budget. This issue deals with local dollars.
  • This is a solution in search of a problem. A dispute over capital rarely ends up in court. Litigation is absolutely the last resort. Why would a school board want to bite the hand that feeds it?
  • We have all heard about Union County, but it is an outlier. The dispute started off as a case about current expense appropriations, and capital got rolled into it. Last year, a senator helped create a win-win with a solution that both sides could live with. A year later we are back to picking a winner and a loser among these two elected bodies.
  • Sometimes a stick is needed to get someone to the table to negotiate in good faith. With this provision, you are essentially removing any sense of meaningful mediation because “the decision of the county commissioners is final.” It removes any incentive for county commissioners to work with their elected school board at every stage of the process.
  • The folks that really get hurt by this provision are the public-school students, teachers, and other staff that work in overcrowded or dilapidated conditions.
  • While no one wants to use taxpayer money on attorney bills, it is important that school boards, on behalf of students and teachers, be able to make a case to rectify deplorable conditions so that students have a chance to succeed.
  • From 1997 to 2015, only four (or .19%) of the 2,070 individual budget processes have gone to court. We know that one involved both current expense and capital, two only involved current expense, and we do not have information on the fourth.

 

June 3-7 Legislative Meeting Calendar

Wednesday, June 5

11:00 am – Senate: Education/Higher Education – Legislative Building, rm 1027/1128 (audio)

 

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6686

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6692

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6677

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 747-6688

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – May 31, 2019