Thursday, February 21, 2013

Today's Victory Meaningless? Perhaps not!

HB 2096, the state takeover of underperforming schools bill, was defeated on a 19-21 vote today.  All twenty Democrats and Republican Harry Blevins were with us.  As the Senate companion, SB 1324, is already on the Governor's desk, isn't the failure of HB 2096 meaningless?

Perhaps not!

SB 1324 was amended to add "the clause." 

"That the provisions of this act shall not become effective unless an appropriation of general funds effectuating the purposes of this act is included in a general appropriation act passed by the 2013 Session of the General Assembly, which becomes law."

Even some of the Republicans who voted for the bills have little stomach for an unconstitutional state takeover of public schools.  Might today's Senate defeat of the House bill embolden the Senate budget conferees to resist the desire of the House to provide the $600,000 needed to fund the Opportunity Educational Institution (OEI)?

Remember, the Senate budget bill includes a budget amendment directing the Joint Legislative an Review Commission to "study options for the restructuring of lowest performing schools and districts."  The Senate budget does not include funding for OEI: the House budget does.

This will obviously be an issue taken up by the budget conferees, and Senators Stosch, Colgan, Howell, Norment, Hanger and Watkins and Delegates Putney, K. Cox, Sherwood, Landes, Jones and Joannou will, as George Bush used to say, be the deciders.  The Senate opposes the appropriation, and Delegates Jones and Landes opposed the bill.  I haven't heard note one from the fat lady.