Tuesday, February 1, 2011

ESP Health Care Credit Advances

Another bill on VEA’s legislative agenda, Senator Marsden’s SB805, which provides local governments with the option of providing the retiree health care credit to support personnel, was reported from the Senate Finance Committee on a 7-5 vote. Senator Howell moved to report the bill, and Senator Houck seconded the motion. It appeared that the bill had failed on a voice vote, but then there was a call for a recorded vote, and the bill passed on the following vote:

YEAS--Houck, Howell, Miller, Y.B., Marsh, Lucas, Whipple, Reynolds--7.
NAYS--Colgan, Wampler, Stosch, Saslaw, Watkins--5.
ABSTENTIONS--Quayle, Norment--2.

Please call your senator urging support for SB805

The Finance Committee was the scene of one of the most spirited debates of the session, when Senator McWaters tried to advance his SB1394. The bill would have diverted $1 billion in general fund revenue, now used to support education and other core services, over the next ten years, to fund transportation projects in NOVA and Hampton Roads. When asked about the impact of the bill on funding for education, McWaters said that teachers are “missionaries” who would understand why money needs to be diverted from education to transportation. When President Boitnott rose to speak to the bill, she stated that, “Teachers are highly skilled professionals who should be fairly compensated.” Senator Lucas moved that the bill be Passed by Indefinitely (PBI) – and so the bill died on a voice vote.

Last year, in my mind, was the “more with less” session. I remember the Governor saying that teachers would once again, “do more with less.” That you have done. This year is the much, much more with even less session. This morning a House Education Subcommittee voted to go forward with requiring that schools teach an additional financial literacy course with no state funding to do so. That same subcommittee had earlier required that K-8 students have 30 minutes of physical education per day, but provided no funds to implement this laudable policy. You know that test scores are going to have to rise 5 points per year until 2014 – there’s no additional money for that either. How much more can you do with much, much less?