Sen. Parsley’s Week Seven Legislative Report

By Sen. Scott Parsley, Dist. 8

Week seven was a very busy week in both the House and the Senate, as week seven was Crossover Week. Crossover Week marks the date all bills must be out of the house of origin.
On Monday, the House took up HB 1182 again. HB 1182 is the half penny sales tax to be used to expand funding for education. After a lengthy debate, the House passed the bill by one vote: 47 to 21. Because this bill changes taxes, it requires a two-thirds vote. Two no votes switched to yes and one previous yes vote switched to no. The bill moved over to the Senate where it was heard in Senate Appropriations on Thursday passing seven to two. Now it will be moving to the Senate floor next week. I voted in support of the bill.
On Feb. 23, the Senate debated SB 131. SB 131 changes the funding formula, provides for the use of 45 percent of the capital outlay tax to be used for school general fund purposes, sets monthly cash balances as a percentage of the schools general fund, and defines how schools will move “other funds” into local support over the next five years.
The bill was amended in committee to establish a “School Financial Accountability Board.” The board will deal with any disputes that arise between school districts and the state regarding the level of cash reserves and questions about the use of 85 percent of the new state dollars for teachers’ salaries.
The bill was also amended on the floor to allow 100 percent of the taxes from new wind energy projects (which are considered other funds) to remain as other funds for the first five years, and then migrate to local effort over the next five years. The bill passed 29 to six and now moves on to the House.
Many of you have reached out to me about the education funding bills, both supporting and questioning the half-cent tax increase for education. I continue to work on the issue to make sure we are fixing the education funding problem and not just putting another band-aid on the issue. The legislative process is a 38-day process, and some issues take the entire 38 days to settle.
This week the Joint Appropriations Committee began setting the 2017 budget. On Feb. 10, the committee set the revenue projections (which tell us how much we have to spend in the next fiscal year) at $1.484 billion, which is less than the Governor’s requested $1.492 billion. The committee is now considering each agency’s request and creating a balanced budget based on the adopted revenue number.
The committee is scheduled to have the budget work completed by next Thursday and the budget vote in the Senate on Monday, March 7 and in the House on Tuesday, March 8. This year we are using a new process for creating the budget by setting the revenue numbers in February, not in March, and then having the bill ready for a vote the beginning of the last week of session, as opposed to the last day of session.
As always, please contact me with any issues at svpar@hotmail.com.
Thanks and have a great week.

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