Early Session Night Fever
It’s a Little Early For This. Gotta love those Bee Gees! Where’s my disco ball?
It’s fairly rare that there are night committee meetings this early in the budget year, but with the ambitious set of proposals the majority caucuses are proposing and the complex nature of some of these bills that requires them to make multiple committee stops, there have already been several night committee meetings. The House Education Finance Committee met this evening to hear Representative Emma Greenman’s HF 20, the bill that would make “between term” employees (notably paraprofessionals and bus drivers) eligible for unemployment compensation. The Governor’s budget recommendations set aside $161 million beginning with the second year of the biennium and similar amounts going forward to pay for the program so that school districts will not be required to take exsisting revenue from their general funds to cover the increased costs that will be incurred. There was spirited debate, with members of the minority caucus suggesting that the $161 million be put on the formula so that school districts could simply retain many of the employees they currently lay off during the summer months.rather than have the state pick up the contribution costs for unemployment insurance. There are obviously concerns with the proposal and whether the revenue being proposed will be sufficient in the event of an economic downturn that would have a significant negative impact on the state budget that would push the costs for the program to school districts. But for now, the support for the program appears strong enough for it to pass, especially after some concerns are assuaged.
There was a motion to lay the bill on the table that failed on a vote of 7-11 followed by a vote that recommended the bill to pass and be re-referred to the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee, which passed 11-7. Both votes were straight party-line votes.
I am going to catch up on bill introductions.
Thanks to the Byron School Board for Having Me Down. I made a trip down to Byron Monday night to speak to the school board. Just a reminder to SEE members that I’m always wiling to head out to member districts to update them on what is happening in St. Paul and provide whatever insight I have. It’s the favorite part of my job (and there really aren’t any bad parts of this job).