Senate Education Bill Disappointing

The following information was shared via email with the library community on Monday, March 27, 2017 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Senate E-12 Omnibus Bill

Despite your grassroots efforts, we fell short in the Senate E-12 bill this afternoon. The committee didn’t fund any portion of our library systems request in SF 1033. Instead, the committee put $288 million of their $300 million target into the basic education formula.

There’s another $4 million in the bill to expand early learning programs. There’s $6 million for Reading Core and a few other odds and ends and smaller change items. The Senate E-12 committee heard a request to expand school Broadband Equity Aid, but they didn’t include that funding either. Overall, it’s a very basic E-12 bill with no real drama (see the House bill for that).

At this point of session we’re in tough shape for our systems’ requests in the E-12 bill. None of the three players; Governor, House & Senate, have much for library initiatives in their education proposals. The House bill has $50,000/year for two years for the Center for the Book.

If the Legislature moves forward with their own ‘round 1’ E-12 package it’s likely the Governor will veto it and demand an increased spending target. He’s asking for $709 million for E-12 where as the legislature is at $300 million in the Senate and $258 million in the House.

Assuming the E-12 target increases in any ‘round 2’ negotiation, the likely places for additional dollars are to get the school general education formula to 2&2, more money for PreK and help with TRA.

Senate Legacy Bill

We’ll likely see the Senate’s Legacy bill rollout Thursday morning at 10am.

Bonding Bill

There’s still no sign of a House bonding bill. The Senate bonding bill, SF 210, awaits floor action at some point when leadership is ready to take it up. SF 210 includes $2 million for library construction and renovation grants.

Samuel P. Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates