NCSBA Legislative Update – June 11, 2021

NCSBA Legislative Update – June 11, 2021

 

State Budget Process

After months of disagreement, Republican legislative leaders have agreed on a spending target for the two-year budget:

  • $25.7 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year (3.45% increase)
  • $26.7 billion for the 2022-2023 fiscal year (3.65% increase)

This spending target contrasts with the Governor’s proposed budget:

  • $27.3 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year (10% increase)
  • $28.7 billion for the 2022-2023 fiscal year (4.9% increase)

In their joint statement, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger said that their budget will not include a bond or Medicaid expansion (both of which are included in the Governor’s proposed budget) but will include at least $4.2 billion of new capital spending through the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund. Senate leaders have not yet provided K-12 public education funding amounts and line items, like school personnel pay. As a reminder, teacher pay was one of the main reasons for the 2019 budget stalemate between legislative leaders and the Governor, ultimately leading to no official State budget for these past two fiscal years.

This announcement on a spending target is just the beginning in creating a comprehensive budget. The legislature is over a month behind its normal budget process, which means that the new two-year budget has a high chance of not passing before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. Senator Berger provided an anticipated budget timeline to the media: the Senate budget will be released during the week of June 21 and the House will release its budget between mid-July and early August, followed by one to two weeks of negotiations. Senator Berger also expects to wrap up this legislative session in August, but his draft timeline does not account for Governor Cooper’s budget actions. Despite the delay in the budget process, the State government will not shut down on July 1 because State statute allows the government to operate on the previous year’s budget until a new budget is signed into law.

Click here for an article of the budget spending agreement.

The legislature’s plan to spend less than the Governor frees up revenue availability for a tax cut. On Thursday, the Senate approved HB 334: JOBS Grants and Tax Relief, which cuts General Fund revenues by $644.5 million in the 2021-2022 fiscal year and $1.5 billion in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The major components of the Senate tax plan are as follows:

  • Reduction of the personal income tax rate from 5.25% to 4.99%
  • Increase in the standard deduction of $2,000 per person
  • Increase in the child deduction of $500
  • Phase out of the corporate income tax over five years beginning in 2024
  • Change in the computation of the franchise tax

Education-Related Bills with Action This Week

Statewide Bills

SB 654: K-12 COVID-19 Provisions (primary sponsors: Senators Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; Don Davis, D-Pitt; Michael Lee, R-New Hanover) was modified and passed by the House 74-34 and is scheduled for a Senate concurrence vote on Monday, June 14, but the Senate is not expected to concur with the House changes. The following House committee modifications lengthened the bill from eight to 20 pages:

  • Combines the House’s virtual learning bill with the Senate’s virtual learning language:
    • Allows no more than 10% of total student enrollment in a LEA to be enrolled in a virtual academy, beginning in the 2021-2022 school year (HB 644)
      • Removes the ability to provide virtual instruction unless a LEA has a virtual academy with its own school code (except as provided in the following three bullets)
    • Public school units (PSUs) with good cause waivers can use up to 15 days or 90 hours of remote instruction for severe weather and other emergencies
      • All other PSUs can use up to 5 days or 30 hours
    • PSUs can provide remote instruction to address health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 during the upcoming school year
  • Delays the implementation of social studies standard course of study changes by one year
    • An amendment by Representative Julie von Haefen, D-Wake, to remove this section failed 46-61 on the House floor
  • Modifies the implementation of kindergarten class size requirements for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Clarifies teacher licensure education requirements
  • Modifies one of the definitions of a year-round school by requiring students to attend four quarters of between 43 and 47 instructional days (was 45) each school year, with 14 to 18 vacation days (was 15) between each quarter
  • Directs the use of the $360 million 10% DPI reserve in Elementary and Second School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) funds, including:
    • $10 million to contract with the State Education Assistance Authority, which is responsible for administering school vouchers, to provide $1,000 grants to students in low-income households
      • Before these grants are administered, DPI must confirm that the use is consistent with federal guidelines
    • $37.5 million for teacher and principal professional development in the science of reading
    • $17 million to provide contracted school health support services
    • $21 million to contract with a third-party entity to mitigate cyberbullying, monitor student internet activity, and assist with suicide prevention services
    • $100 million to provide teachers with up to an eleventh month salary

Additionally, SB 654 does the following:

  • Waives school performance grades, report cards, and low-performing school identification for the upcoming school year based on 2020-2021 school year data
  • Continues the principal recruitment supplement for the 2021-2022 school year
  • Allows seniors to graduate in 2021 without completing CPR instruction
  • Extends exam requirements for teachers seeking a continuing professional license from June 30, 2021, to September 30, 2021
  • Adds another definition of a year-round school: allows a single-track school to operate on the same multi-track schedule of another school in that LEA

Click here for an official bill summary. Click here for an article on SB 654.

HB 64: Government Transparency Act of 2021 was gutted and amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee and approved by the Senate Rules Committee. This bill requires local boards of education (as well as counties, municipalities, community colleges, State agencies, etc.) to not only maintain the date and general description of the reasons for each promotion, but also for each demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or dismissal. An employee can appeal to not have the date and description of their promotion, demotion, etc. disclosed if the information is protected by an applicable confidentiality law, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the American with Disabilities Act. Click here for an official bill summary. HB 64 is the same as SB 355 but with a slight modification. SB 355’s primary sponsor Senator Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico, stated that he would add his bill to an eligible bill, since SB 355 did not make the crossover deadline. NCSBA previously expressed our concerns about the bill with Senator Sanderson, specifically about suspensions and transfers.

SB 582: High School Adjunct Instructors/CC Prep (primary sponsors: Senators Jim Burgin, R-Harnett; Kevin Corbin, R-Macon) passed the House 108-0 and was presented to the Governor. This bill allows higher education faculty members to qualify as adjunct instructors for K-12 core academic subjects, fine and performing arts, and foreign language courses if they meet State Board of Education criteria (currently can only teach K-12 core academic subjects). It also allows an individual who holds a bachelor’s or graduate degree, attends a community college or educator preparation program, and completes at least one semester of teacher preparation to contract with a LEA to teach high-school level courses related to the individual’s specialized knowledge or work experience. Click here for an official bill summary. Following the approval of SB 582 in the House Education K-12 Committee, TeachNC provided a presentation on teacher recruitment.

HB 812: Clarify Remote Meetings During Emergencies (primary sponsors: Representatives Dean Arp, R-Union; Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck; Erin Pare, R-Wake; William Richardson, D-Cumberland) passed the Senate 48-0 and was sent to the Governor. This bill clarifies the authorization of remote open meetings during emergencies. It allows a public body to change a meeting notice to be a remote meeting at least six hours before the start of the meeting and include how the public can access the remote meeting. Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 668: Anti-Pension Spiking Amds & Litig. Moratorium (primary sponsor: Senator Jim Burgin, R-Harnett) was modified and approved by the House Pensions and Retirement Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee. This bill does the following:

  • Adds another payment option: 12 years with no early pay-off penalty
  • In certain situations, two or more employers will share the liability
  • Creates a working group consisting of NCSBA and the State Treasurer’s office to develop recommendations to the General Assembly that will reduce pension spiking cases and lawsuits
  • Requires a pause on pension-spiking litigation until June 30, 2022, during which the working group will create its recommendations
    • As a result of this pause, the statute of limitations will be extended
    • During the pause, the Treasurer’s office is not allowed to intercept funds that would have otherwise been directed to a LEA

Click here for an official bill summary.

SB 722: Revise Local Gov’t Redistricting/Census (primary sponsors: Senators Warren Daniel, R-Burke; Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus; Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell) was modified and approved by the House Rules Committee, passed the House 107-0, and was sent to the Senate for concurrence with the House changes. Because of the delay in receiving 2020 census data and limited time for municipalities to redraw districts, this bill delays affected 2021 municipal elections. The House Rules Committee added the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Lexington City boards of education to the bill to allow for a delay in 2021 elections until 2022. Click here for an official bill summary.

HB 84: Sex Offender Premises Restrictions (primary sponsors: Representatives Harry Warren, R-Rowan; Allen McNeill, R-Randolph; Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance; Sarah Stevens, R-Surry) passed the Senate, the House did not concur, and a conference committee has been appointed.

Local Bills

HB 85: Cleveland Cty Bd. of Ed Vacancies (primary sponsors: Representatives Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln) passed the Senate, the House concurred with the Senate changes, and became SL 2021-28. This bill requires the Cleveland County Board of Education to fill a Board vacancy by appointing the recommendation of the county executive committee of the vacating member’s political party.

SB 288: Rutherford College/Bd. of Ed. Burke/Caldwell (primary sponsor: Senator Warren Daniel, R-Burke) was modified and approved by the House Local Government Committee and referred to the House Rules Committee.

Bill Chart

Click here for a chart of all education-related bills that NCBSA is tracking.

 

On Monday, Judge David Lee signed an order to implement the 52-page Comprehensive Remedial Plan that was submitted by the State Board of Education and DPI earlier this year, addressing the State’s constitutional obligation of providing every student with the opportunity to a sound, basic education.

The Monday order calls for the State to abide by its constitutional obligation by implementing the eight-year comprehensive remedial plan that currently costs $5.6 billion (some items do not yet include cost totals) and addresses the seven key areas outlined in the 2020 consent order and 2019 WestEd report:

  1. A high-quality teacher in each classroom
  2. A high-quality principal in each school
  3. A finance system that provides adequate, equitable, and predictable funding to school districts
  4. An accountability system that reliably assesses multiple measures of student performance
  5. An assistance and turnaround function to provide support to low-performing schools and districts
  6. A system of early education to ensure that all students enter kindergarten on track for school success
  7. Alignment of high school to postsecondary and career expectations

While the court has persistently upheld the efforts of the Leandro case and what is legally owed to public school children, Republican leadership in the General Assembly insists that because of the constitutional separation of powers clause, the court cannot compel the legislature on how to spend State money. The court order says that “If the State fails to implement actions described in the Comprehensive Remedial Plan…‘it will then be the duty of this Court to enter a judgment granting declaratory relief and such other relief as needed to correct the wrong.’” Click here for an article on the order and current legislative efforts.

 

This week the U.S. Department of Education released Maintenance of Equity Guidance for the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding, to help ensure that “essential resources are meeting the needs of students who have been subject to longstanding opportunity gaps in our education system.”

  • Click here to access ARP ESSER Maintenance of Equity FAQs
  • Click here to access the ARP ESSER State Plan Application Technical Assistance webpage
  • Click here to access the Department’s press release announcing actions to advance equity in education

 

The National School Boards Action Center released a national public opinion poll on public education. The findings are from a nationwide survey of 1,000 individuals who are likely 2022 voters, with oversamples of 100 African American, 100 Latinx, 100 AAPI, 100 Native American, and 100 parents of school-age children who are likely 2022 voters. Click here to view key findings and full results.

 

Tuesday, June 15

8:30 am – House Appropriations, Education – Legislative Offices Building, rm 425 (no live stream)

1:00 pm – House Local Government – Legislative Building, rm 1228/1327 (live stream)

Wednesday, June 16

10:00 am – Senate Health Care – Legislative Offices Building, rm 544 (live stream)

 

 

  

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
rbostic@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – June 11, 2021