Lawmakers are wrapping up the 2013-14 legislative session this week and there are still a number of education issues swirling around. In #MASSPchat, we will recap the lame duck session and chat about what passed, what didn't, and what that means for schools. We will also preview what issues are likely to be debated going into 2015 and what early indications are for how the 2015-16 School Aid budget could shake out.
The Five-Day Rule (also known as Article IV, Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution) requires that bills have to wait for five days in both the House and Senate before they can be voted on in order to ensure the public has a chance to see and weigh in on legislation without the legislature being able to railroad it through in a single day in the dead of night. With only three days of House session and four of Senate session left this year, it also means that any legislation that hasn't already passed at least one chamber is effectively dead for the year.
Last week, Dr. Deborah Ball, the chair of the Michigan Council on Educator Effectiveness, sent a letter to Governor Snyder expressing "deep concerns" with a pair of alternative educator evaluation bills that have been put forward by the Senate Education Committee chair. In her letter, Dr. Ball says clearly that the versions of the bills that have been proposed in the Senate would "undermine the improvement-focused system of educator evaluation recommended by the [MCEE]" and that the work of the Council would "be for nothing" if the Senate versions passed.
In November, the Senate passed a responsible road funding plan that raises new money to fix roads. During the first week of lame duck session, the House passed a plan that cut hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the School Aid Fund. The House plan would eliminate the sales tax on fuel, which currently goes into the School Aid Fund, in favor of a wholesale gas tax that would go exclusively to the Michigan Transportation Fund.
On Thursday the House passed a damaging road funding plan that would effectively shift money away from schools and local governments to pay for road repairs at a massive cost to the School Aid Fund (see the chart below for the year-by-year impact). The Senate had already taken the tough vote earlier in the year to pass a road funding plan that actually raised new revenue to pay for road repairs, so it is unclear whether the House's plan has a chance.