Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Proponents of Change for Education Capital Budget hit a roadblock - key bills not moving forward.

Whereas other segments of our "Top 5" priorities experienced success this week, supporters of change in how we allocate and obtain capital funding dollars for schools hit the skids.  Although Senate Bill 5859 by Senator Jamie Pedersen had been moving forward with substantial bipartisan support, the bill failed to be voted out of committee on Friday. This bill would have reduced the threshold requirements for school districts to qualify for matching funds for projects. Current law discriminates against larger, high growth districts.  This bil l is an attempt to strike a balance in the name of fairness.  The statutory changes offered by the bill are unlikely to be enacted this session. However, and we stress the "However" quite strongly here - this does not mean that parts of the bill will not make their way into the Senate's proposed Capital Budget later this year. Consider this to be "Schroedinger's Bill" - it is both alive and dead at the same time.   

House Bill 1941 on the other hand, is truly dead. This bill would have reduced the bond requirements from 60% voter approval to a simple majority in general elections. The bill was imperfect - it only offered a change for November general elections and it split many allies in the education community.  Some representatives saw the proposal as at least a start in the process to have a bill moving forward while others saw challenges with only allowing for a November vote.  PTA leaders testified on behalf of the bill in committee while urging amendments to allow for more opportunities to run bond issues bey ond the originally offered November date.  Supporters have declared they will continue to work this issue during the interim.

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