Or Ketchup! Last week at the Legislature ended somewhat quietly. At Thursday morning’s House Education Finance Committee, the committee heard the bill that would bolster the Teachers of Color Act. Unlike the Senate hearing earlier in the week, the House hearing did not generate the same level of concern from members of the minority caucus. That might change in the future, but the bill flew through unimpeded and will likely find a place in the omnibus bill. The House Education Finance Committee recessed and re-convened in the evening to take up the Unemployment Insurance bill that would provide benefits to employees who are considered “between term” employees who ordinarily do not work for school districts during the summer months and are currently not eligible to file for or receive unemployment benefits. This category of employees largely consists of paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and food service workers. There is a cost associated with the bill that is being carried outside of the education budget in the Governor’s budget recommendations. The concern most often voiced regarding the proposal is its potential cost and worries that the state will not be able to continue meeting the obligations associated with the required contributions to the Unemployment Insurance fund and that at some point, school districts will be saddled with the costs. Another issue is that contractors who work with school districts, most often in the areas of transportation and food service, would have to pay those costs, which would then be passed on to districts in higher contract bids. There are also concerns on the part of some contractors–especially smaller contractors for whom absorbing the additional contributions would be more difficult–that the policy as currently being presented would be unfair to districts that use contractors to deliver these services. It is likely that the Unemployment Insurance bill will pass this session, but there may be a number of changes incorporated into the bill as it moves along to address the concerns that have arisen.
House (Thursday, February 16)
Senate (Thursday, February 16)