Session complications — schools, apportionment | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Session complications — schools, apportionment

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Wrinkles always develop in the final days of legislative sessions. Among those developing this year:

* SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION: Tea Party Rep. Jon Hubbard caught the administration off guard today by winning House committee approval of his bill to require that test scores and finances, not just the 350-student enrollment minimum, be considered in school district consolidation. It's a sop to the consolidated Weiner School District near Jonesboro. It's also a free ticket right back to court because it kicks sand in the case of the Lakeview decision, would be more expensive to the state and open a whole box full of Pandoras concerning the five dozen districts consolidated in recent years. Will the House pass it? Surely the grownups on Jimmy Jeffress' Senate Education Committee won't. Or will they? Complication. UPDATE: I asked Senate Education Chair Jeffress his opinion of the bills chances in the Senate: "Not a chance!!!!" Jeffress earlier dropped a school funding bill that competed with the Beebe-backed House bill. Jeffress wanted more money for transportation costs; he won a promise for a $500,000 gubernatorial fund to which districts with unusual needs could apply for subsidies.

* APPORTIONMENT: The governor so far has had a hard time getting Joint Budget approval for his proposal for spending on legislative redistricting. The matter has been complicated by a misleading data sheet prepared by Secretary of State Mark Martin designed to make the governor look like a spendthrift. Martin is double counting some money put in both 2011 and 2012 fiscal years because it's not clear when the work will be done. But all that money wont' be spent. Martin wants to make the governor look bad because the governor wants DF&A, not the secretary of state, overseeing the spending. Martin will kick his own self in the behind if he stymies the governor's proposal because ALL his apportionment money, except for $200,000 the governor provided on an emergency basis, is scheduled for the next fiscal year. In other words, Martin can't do much work now and the push has been for a speedy resolution of new districts.

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