Senate Returns Serve. The Senate responded to the House’s offer late this afternoon with an offer of its own. The Senate offer increased their proposed LETRS appropriation of $30 million to $52.5 million and proposes to use the remainder of the $320 million at their disposal to reduce the special education cross-subsidy by $265 million for the coming fiscal year (2022-2023 school year) and an additional $676,000 over the next biennium. The offer also increases MDE’s data collection capability on literacy and dyslexia by $1.2 million. Here is a link to the offer: Senate Conference Committee Offer May 17, 2022.
The Senate’s action is a bit reminiscent of their approach last year when their final push featured putting more money on the formula than either the Governor or House had proposed. It’s important to remember that both last year and this year, the Senate omnibus education funding and policy bills have been extremely focused on a few funding initiatives with very little in terms of smaller approprations for individual programs or expanded policy. The latest Senate author is similar in that it focuses its attention on two programs and funds them to a greater extent than the House does. It will be interesting to see how things unfold tomorrow. There was no conference committee today and there will likely be rush tomorrow to bring things to closure in order to get the bill on the floor before some of the larger, more complex conference committees reports hit the floor. The most complex bill will be the Health and Human Services finance and policy bill and that bill is always difficult to put together.
Stay tuned tomorrow. Things will likely be quite spirited as the conference committee works to finish its business.