School Funding Proposal Appears To Shift Tax Burden
The third week of the session started off with a bang when we were finally allowed to see the EdBuild report proposing a new way of funding public education. The presentation was made to a full house as many interested parties attended to hear the ideas. The report held a number of proposals that may be worth considering; for example, basing school funding on a per pupil basis, rather than average daily attendance. However, it appears to us that the formula will be dependent on pushing more of school funding down on the local taxpayers. The amount of funds required of the local districts was not reported so we are withholding final judgment on whether or not any of this is good for schools until we are presented with all of the necessary information. I will not support any measure that takes the responsibility off of the state and mandates that local taxpayers are left shouldering the full load.
On Tuesday, the House chamber hosted the State of the State address. I was pleased that Governor Bryant stated his support for funding a new Trooper School. I led the effort to fund the last Trooper School and, once again, our ranks are much too thin.
Governor Bryant didn’t cover the dangerous state of our highways and bridges during that speech. There are over 900 unsafe bridges and more than 20,000 miles of crumbling roads that are desperately in need of maintenance and repair. Many of us in the House are prepared to push this issue. The safety of our citizens depends on it.
We narrowly defeated House Bill 555, which would tie the hands of the Attorney General in going after corporate wrongdoers. The measure would require that any lawsuit proposed by the Attorney General that was likely to result in over $250,000 being returned to the state would have to be approved by a “review committee.” It was ironic that we were voting on this measure the day after Attorney General Jim Hood announced he was returning $26 million to the state from a lawsuit. The bill is currently being held on a motion to reconsider.
Other relatively uncontested bills introduced to the House floor included a measure lifting the requirement for “no parking” signage, legislation requiring drivers to slow down when encountering certain features on the road, bills creating nursing and physical therapy licensure compacts, an extension of the Infant Mortality Reduction Collaborative and a bill authorizing the Department of Health to establish a Maternal Mortality Review Committee.
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