Schools for Equity in Education

– Legislative Update

We’re racing down the backstretch of the 2024 legislative session and for education funding and policy, we’re actually closer to the final turn into the homestretch. The House passed its version of the omnibus education policy bill last Thursday night on a party-line vote of 69-61. Debate on the bill lasted almost four hours and there were several amendments, most of which were defeated on party-line votes. The amendments that received the most airtime were ones calling for the repeal of the ethnic studies standard, changes to the READ Act to incorporate language specifically highlighting the term “science of reading,” and repeal of much of the content contained in last year’s bill relating to non-exclusionary discipline. If I had gotten a nickel for every time I heard the word “mandate” uttered during the debate, I’d be off on a European vacation tomorrow without having to spend any of my own money.

I don’t wax nostalgic for the old days that much, but one of the big differences between the current era and earlier eras is that it’s extremely rare that an amendment offered by the minority party passes and it’s almost as rare to see any defections from the majority party’s position in the bill on an amendment. In the current era, once something is in the omnibus bill as it comes out of committee, it rarely comes out or is radically changed by a floor amendment. It makes for a more predictable process with most of a lobbyist’s work front-loaded into the committee’s work, because once that hurdle they can pretty much kick back and wait for the conference committee. In the past, lobbyists often had to sit on pins and needles during the floor debate because they had to do a hard vote count on almost every amendment.

At any rate, here is a link to SF 3567 (House Version). As a frame of reference, here is a link to SF 3567 (Senate Version). The versions will now go to the conference committee where differences will be worked out. There are not vast differences in the two versions of the bill so it shouldn’t be difficult to come to a final agreement. I don’t expect the conference committee to meet this week given that the committee deadline for the funding bills across all budget areas to out of committee is Friday, April 19.

Speaking of the funding bills, the House Education Finance Committee has posted its version of the omnibus education finance bill and the accompanying spreadsheet showing the new spending on the schedule for their meeting today at 1:00 PM. Here is the text of HF 5237 that will be reviewed tomorrow and here is the HF 5237 Spreadsheet of Change-Items. The featured appropriations and budget changes are $37 million for the READ Act and changes in the next biennium to maintain current levels of compensatory revenue.

The Senate has yet to post SF 5252, the Senate companion bill to HF 5237. The House will be reviewing their bill today and taking testimony on Tuesday. Likely, the bill will then be marked up and passed out of committee on Wednesday. The Senate is scheduled to go through their bill on Tuesday and indications (at least preliminarily) are they will also take testimony that day. That would leave Wednesday for markup and approval of the bill at the committee level. Both committees would still have Thursday to finish their work if they are unable to finish by Wednesday. I’m conjecturing here as to the exact timeline, but it is clear they have to be done by Friday.

Follow the blog this week for up-to-the-minute (well, maybe not to-the-minute) updates on how the process is unfolding.


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