The three big issues for K-12 education – budget, taxes and Common Core standards – remain unsolved as the Legislature begins the 90th day of the 2013 session.
House and Senate negotiators have an agreement on a two-year state budget in SB 171, which will first go to the House for a vote. It does NOT includes any language dealing with state academic standards and testing. However, revenue projections indicate the proposed budget would create a deficit in the State General Fund by the end of Fiscal Year 2015 (2014-14 school year) without additional state revenue. It is unclear whether the House will vote on the budget before or after an agreement on tax policy is reached.
Tax committee negotiators FAILED to reach an agreement, when the House rejected a new offer from the Senate. The tax conference committee is scheduled to meet at 9:30 this morning. The committee has both a House and Senate bill in conference, so a compromise bill could be sent first to either chamber for a test vote. Also, the Senate has moved a tax bill passed earlier by the House to general orders today, meaning the Senate could place a new tax proposal into a House bill and give the House an option to simply concur, by-passing the conference committee process.
Although a proviso concerning the Common Core academic standards was not included in the budget deal, opponents continue their push to prohibit or delay the new standards. As long as the session continues, there are options. Although House leaders have pledged not to bring up any bill for debate on general orders during the wrap-up session, 70 House members could vote to bring the bill dealing with the Common Core out of committee. A new bill could be introduced in either the House or Senate by an exempt committee. An attempt could be made amend language into another bill on general orders, if any are available that could be properly amended.
These would require the cooperation of the Republican majority leadership. As the Legislature struggles to finish the session, it may come down to whether action on the Common Core helps or hurts passage of the budget or a tax bill.