Wednesday, January 21, 2015

VEA Bill Advances in the Senate Finance Committee

The first of the bills initiated by VEA to be taken up by a committee was reported today by the Senate Finance Committee.  Senator Janet Howell's SB905 advanced on 9-6 bipartisan vote.

YEAS--Stosch, Colgan, Howell, Saslaw, Norment, Hanger, Watkins, Lucas, Alexander--9.

NAYS--Newman, Ruff, Wagner, McDougle, Vogel, Carrico--6.

ThIs bill addresses the fact that the tuition tax credit provisions in the Code of Virginia prescribe insufficient accountability requirements for the “eligible schools,” and don’t provide adequate information to facilitate an accurate comparison of these schools for interested parents.  Requiring these schools to compile the results of “any national norm referenced test” seems wholly inadequate if parents are to make informed choices of schools.  This bill provides that the Board of Education approve the tests employed to evaluate the private schools benefiting from tax dollars.
This bill  now advances to the Senate floor.  Please urge your Senator to support SB905.

In the House Education Committee, the bills taken up by the Education Reform Subcommittee yesterday (see yesterday's post) were considered.  HB1615, HB1674, HB1490, and HB1585 were reported and will now go to the full House.  When you check out yesterday’s post, please note the revised fiscal impact numbers for HB1490.


In an alarming development, yesterday afternoon, the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee reported Senator Obenshain's SJ255, a Constitutional amendment to "lockbox" transportation funding.  The problem with such an approach is that if you "lockbox" funds for one portion of the budget, it leaves the other portions of the budget vulnerable to more severe cuts when there is a recession or an emergency.  It would make it much harder for a future  Governor to hold public education harmless as Governor McAullife did with his budget amendments for FY 2016.