Day 17: Budget Cuts Pass House
by Angela Palm on 2/11/2010

The House passed the supplemental budget today by a vote of 122-44.  It cut over $1 billion from the 2010 budget.  In case anyone missed the announcement earlier this week of the January revenue figures, revenue is down 13% year-to-date from last year.  January revenue was down 9% from last year.  The supplemental budget now goes to the Senate.


House Ed Finished With Governance Bill

The  House Education Committee unanimously gave a "Do Pass" to a committee substitute of SB 84 as amended.  This version preserves the changes made last week and added back a waiver process from the nepotism provision.  This bill has been a priority of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.  The current version does include a number of the changes GSBA requested. We appreciate the efforts of these Committee members as they worked on this bill.  Balancing the various aspects of the public interest is no easy task.

Additionally the Committee supported HB 925, changing the mailing requirements for notices of excessive unexcused absences; HB 936, allowing state bus replacement funds to be used to refurbish buses; and HB 977, regarding procedures when giving administrators a raise when employees have been furloughed.

These bills all move to House Rules now.

The Committee expects to have Kathleen Mathers, Director of the Office of Student Achievement,  speak to them next week about the results of OSA's recent audit of test results and possible manipulation of those results.

Class Size Update

Although class sizes were removed from HB 908, a flexibility bill that passed earlier this week, there is another effort to help in this area.  Many members of the House Education Committee have been opposed to suspending class size requirements, but HB 1130 tries to do so in a more limited way.  It's important to explain the local need for relief from this requirement.  

Also, just as we complain about the things the General Assembly does that we don't like, remember to thank them for passing bills that are helpful such as the flexibility bills the House passed earlier -- extending the contract deadline for three years, ending the requirement that middle school grades be housed together to get middle school funding, and suspending the expenditure controls for three years.

Senate Ed Ponders The World of Superintendents 

As the Senate Education & Youth Committee heard SB 386, the Governor's proposal for pay-for-performance, the discussion somehow veered to how superintendents are selected and evaluated.  Some apparently feel that school boards aren't so hot at these tasks.  If so many indicators of effectiveness are improving -- such as the graduation rate, number of students taking AP classes, achievement gap narrowing, etc. -- one would think that someone at the local leadership level must be doing things well.  

No vote was taken on SB 386 as the quorum was lost, but SB 298 requiring first aid be part of a health course and SB 132 raising the dropout age to 17 were given a "Do Pass."  No fiscal note was mentioned for SB 132 which also includes a provision for parents to opt their child out between ages 16 and 17 if they are attending a community college or technical school.  These two bills move on to the Rules Committee.


The General Assembly is in recess until Tuesday.