One of the hot spots of next session will be elementary and secondary education. There are three (or four) pieces in play. The question is whether they can be jiggled to fit together into some kind of a passable omnibus education bill. It’s a tall order.
First and foremost in the minds of rural school districts is a rewriting of the foundation formula which determines state payments to local school districts. This has been a crisis with a slowly approaching detonation date, and now we’re there. The current foundation formula was established without provisions for scaling payments back when the state underfunded the formula. As a result, in the current equation “formula districts,” including a lot of rural districts that receive large payments, will get hammered. Their payments will drop 20%-40%. The hold-harmless districts are held harmless.
Rep. Mike Thomson’s HB 1043 (Read Summary Here) would share ease the cuts on the formula districts by sharing the pain between the formula and hold harmless districts. This will be opposed by the hold harmless districts. They have achieved their status in some measure by taxing themselves and self-funding their educational priorities. To now lose their hold harmless immunity seems unfair to their self-sacrifice. Note: most of these hold harmless districts are suburban school districts.
Second, the Turner Court case continues to bring fear to suburban districts. That case allows students in unaccredited districts (these are the urban districts) to transfer to nearby (that’d be suburban) districts. This morning a study funded by the Clayton school district (outside St. Louis) says fully a third of St. Louis City kids would take advantage of that option. (Read it Here.) Suburban districts have argued that there needs to be some parameters established – how many students per year, for example – in order to avoid a chaotic implementation of this court remedy. They seek a “Turner fix.”
Third, an odd coalition of free market Republicans and urban Democrats have been putting forth various “reforms” during the last several sessions. These have included ideas like virtual schools, or tax credits for private scholarships for students in underperforming districts. Last year Rep. Tishaura Jones was the House handler of the reform package. She has not pre-filed anything yet. This coalition hopes to use the wish-list of the rural (foundation formula fix) and suburban districts (Turner fix) to trade for some broad educational reforms.
Even when these sort of grand compromises work out on paper, they’re hard to win passage and avoid sabotage during legislative session.
Finally, one wildcard in all this is Sen. Victor Callahan’s SB 434. (Read the Summary Here). It would make it much easier for districts to change their boundary lines, in effect joining another district. One observer imagines parts of the St. Louis City school district, for example, carving themselves into an adjoining district with better schools.
Hubbard in Senate 7
In the new campaign committee filing below, Mitch Hubbard started a committee to run for Senate 7 yesterday. If the name is familiar, you can classify yourself as a political junkie. Hubbard ran against Robin Carnahan for secretary of state in 2008 when no viable Republican emerged for the race. Hubbard, predictably, got shlocked, losing by 26%.
Ah, the mystery continues. Yesterday Jason Hall was back at the Department of Economic Development, BUT he did not park in the director’s parking spot. Hmmmm. Put that in your crystal ball and smoke it.
AP to Hire Temporary Reporter for Session
Associated Press is hiring a temporary reporter for session. From the advertisement: “The job begins Jan. 17, 2012, and will run for 16 weeks… Applicants need to understand the growing importance of multimedia news…” See Ad Here.
Sen. Brian Nieves’ new private sector job is chief operating officer of MGB Surgery. See the Website Here.
The federal government appears to be poised to loosen restrictions against the state’s allowing online gambling. Read the New York Times article Here. And from Sen. Claire McCaskill’s tweet: “Don't know whether to be glad so many are using twitter to express their opinions,or worried that so many people want to play poker online!”
New Campaign Committee Filings
Missourians for Mitchell Hubbard – Mitch Hubbard – Republican – Senate 7.
Citizens for Reneau – Chris Reneau – Republican – House 33.
Naeger for Senate – Patrick Naeger – Republican – Senate 3.
Friends of Robert Sawyer – Robert Sawyer – Republican – House 125.
Lobbyists’ Principal Changes
From the Pelopidas website:
Lana Ladd Baker deleted Financial Insurance Marketing Cooperative.
Brian Bernskoetter and Randy Scherr added American Chemistry Council, and Multistate Associates for Healthport; and deleted Coalition for Speed Enforcement, Professional Pet Association, and Multistate Associates for Assoc. of Health Information Outsourcing.
Douglas W Burnett deleted Missouri Juvenile Justice Association.
Citizens for Porter - $50,000 from Craig Porter Dev., LLC.
Citizens for Elect Rocky Miller - $5,001 from Dale Miller.
Stand Up Missouri - $44,375 from SourceLink.
Happy birthdays to Rep. Sue Entlicher (61) and former Rep. Michael Spreng (64).
This week’s schedule is a regular update tomorrow morning, followed by the Weekly Summary early again on Thursday. Then off Monday’s national holiday.
Legislative session starts next week, and with it a resumption of Friday morning update.