Day 3: No Budget Yet
by Angela Palm on 1/13/2010

Gov. Sonny Perdue gave his final State of the State Address today.  It was filled with historical details and quotes but light on the details of, well, the state of the state.  Except for Mental Health, there were no budget numbers.  The only references to education were to the "radical move" two years ago to pass the IE2 legislation and to the new teacher compensation model announced yesterday.  The Governor said he would release the budget Friday, a day on which the legislature will be absent.  Once released, it should be posted on the Office of Planning and Budget site.  He is scheduled to address the Joint Appropriations Committees in the 2010 Budget Briefings Tuesday (see below for details).

Flexibility Bill Meeting Resistance

HB 908, the bill suspending expenditure controls, the 65% requirement, K-8 class size, and salary schedule, is causing major heartburn for some legislators.  The sections most disputed are the 65% requirement, class size, and salary schedule.  The salary schedule suspension, by the way, is intended to allow the district to pay a different amount from the salary schedule if they choose to do so rather than being an end of the schedule.  The expenditure control requiring that direct instruction funds be spent in direct instruction is the one most likely to remain.  

Supporters of the bill continue to point out that this is an emergency measure due to the fiscal crisis resulting in massive cuts.  They also point out that the accountability system is still in place, and there are consequences for not meeting the state standards.  The House Education Committee is working on this bill, and there is not yet a substitute.  We recommend talking to your legislators about this when they are home.  Let them know how you would use the flexibility, what is likely to happen in your district without this bill, and what you have done already to implement cuts -- changes to programs for students, to teachers and administrators. 

The State Board has been generous with the waivers in this crisis. The crisis, however, is extending over several years, and the one year waivers are not a good fit for strategically planning how to best educate the students over this period.  With the limited personnel at the district and state level due to the cuts, it would seem to be a more effective use of staff time to shift to a multi-year, temporary suspension of these laws.



Thursday, January 13

The General Assembly will be in session

House Ways and Means Committee will meet upon adjournment in 606 CLOB.  Department of Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham is scheduled to attend.

House Education Committee will meet at 2 PM in 506 CLOB to consider some of the bills discussed in Tuesday's meeting.

Friday, January 14

The General Assembly will be adjourned until Monday, January 25th.  HR 1091 contains the schedule through February 8th.

Tuesday, January 19

The Governor will address the Joint Appropriations Committees at 1:05 in 341 CAP

Dr. Kenneth Heaghley, State Fiscal Economist, will follow the Governor at 1:30.  His topic is the economic outlook and revenue estimating.

Wednesday, January 20

State Superintendent Kathy Cox will address the Joint Appropriations Committees at 1 PM in 341 CAP.