House Passes Free Breakfast and Lunch Bill. The House gave final approval to HF 5 this afternoon and the bill will now go to the Governor for his signature. This measure was included in the Governor’s budget, but rather than incorporating it into the omnibus bill that will be constructed and passed later this session, legislative leadership decided to pass the bill as a single piece of legislation. The bill first passed the House on February 9, but the Senate waited until Tuesday, March 14, to take the bill up on the Senate floor. The Senate attached an amendment to the bill wihch required (Warning! Civics lesson ahead!) the bill to return to the House for concurrence (acceptance of the amendment) and a final vote. If the Senate had not attached an amendment, the bill would have gone directly to the Governor. The Senate vote on the bill was 38-25, with four Republicans joining the majority in passing the bill. The House vote was 71-58 in favor of the bill, with 1 Republican joining the House majority. The cost of the bill in this biennium is $388 million and an estimated $419 million in the biennium after this one. The $388 million is included in the Governor’s proposed $2.5 billion education budget recommendations.
Speaking of the Governor’s Budget. The Governor released his supplemental budget recommendations today and there are three adjustments to the budget recommendations he released in January. I don’t have detailed language at this point, but there are three changes as outlined by the Commissioner in a meeting I attended this morning. Here they are:
- A hold-harmless in compensatory revenue for districts attributable to the change from the completion of free-or-reduced price lunch forms and the direct certification of eligibility for compensatory revenue through Medical Assistance,
- An earlier effective date for unemployment insurance for between-term workers (bus drivers, food service workers, education service professionals). The Governor’s original budget had this program taking effect after the 2023-2024 school year but the supplemental budget moves that up to after the current school year. This change costs $135 million, but it is not carried in the Education budget but in the Department of of Energy and Economic Development’s budget.
- A 5% set-aside in grant programs approved by the Legislature for administration of the grants.
The uptick in one-time revenue in the February forecast probably makes the unemployment insurance provision possible and even though it will be a headache for districts to implement the changes for employees whose between-term will begin about a month after the omnibus education bill is passed.
So say tuned. Things are picking up and the individual budget targets will likely be released at some point next week. Then there will be a mad rush to put together the omnibus bills. Big week ahead!