Wednesday, December 23, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 23: "Everyone needs a way out of this." House abruptly changes course on #PAbudget

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup December 23, 2015:
"Everyone needs a way out of this." House abruptly changes course on #PAbudget

“We can’t send a budget bill to the governor without the Tax Code bill to pay for it, the governor’s not legally able to sign that bill, so we do need that to be able to send the budget bill to the governor,” he explained.  He stated the House, barring constitutional and rules delays in terms of procedure, could potentially get the full package to the governor as soon as Wednesday if the Senate were to act on a tax plan when they return to session Wednesday."
Reed: “We have to wait and see what the Senate does tomorrow” before House will take up budget bill
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Tuesday, December 22, 2015
As the latest chapter in Pennsylvania’s 175-day long budget saga continued to unfold on the Tuesday before Christmas, House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) gave pause to some optimistic the plan could land on the governor’s desk by Wednesday, saying the chamber will not call up the $30.788 billion budget bill without agreement on a pension and tax bill first.  “We’re waiting to hear form the Senate whether they have an agreement on pension with the administration and the House Democrats and we still have not seen a Tax Code bill to pay for that General Appropriations bill, so as soon as we see those products from the Senate, we are ready to move forward,” he said. “If the Senate’s prepared with those products ready to go and has agreement ready to go, as soon as they give them to us, we’re ready to go to.”  According to Rep. Reed, the rationale behind holding up the spending bill is that it would be unconstitutional for the governor so sign a spending plan that is out of balance.

Procedural gymnastics leads to budget framework revival
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Tuesday, December 22, 2015
After motions to revert, reconsideration of the vote on said motion, and an unusual roll call vote on second consideration, the once dead budget framework rose like a phoenix Tuesday afternoon in a spectacle that could land a $30.788 billion budget on Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk by Wednesday.  The whole thing started with an amendment to the temporary budget rule encapsulated in House Resolution 627.  The original temporary rule would have required two-thirds of the House to approve a motion to revert to the prior printer number and would have possibly placed such a motion out of order.  The amendment to the rule placed a motion to revert to the immediately prior printer number always in order and only required a majority of members in attendance to approve the motion to revert.  In adopting the amendment 107-91, 24 Republicans joined with all 83 Democrats in attendance to allow the bill to be reverted back to the framework budget number of $30.788 billion instead of the stopgap emergency funding amount of $28.23 billion encapsulated in the current version.  After a two hour break, the House returned to vote on the motion to revert, which was approved by a much narrower margin of 100-99.

"Believe me -- many, many members who voted 'no' in there are very glad this happened," said Taylor. "Everyone needs a way out of this."
Pa. budget 'back on track' after House changes direction
A Pennsylvania budget agreement is one step from the governor's desk, after a series of parliamentary moves in the House positioned a $30.8 billion spending plan for a final vote Wednesday.  Nearly 20 Republicans joined with Democrats Tuesday afternoon in a preliminary vote to support the proposal backed by the Senate and Gov. Tom Wolf.  It was a stunning course reversal by the House, where the Republican majority had begun readying a short-term spending plan, all but abandoning efforts to reach a compromise on a full-year's budget.  It was a Philadelphia Republican who initiated the move to resurrect the budget agreement that the House had previously rejected.  "It's basically sitting around and saying to one another, like, look ... what parliamentary maneuver can we do to put this back on track?" said Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia. He spoke to reporters shortly after the House voted 100-97 to position the budget bill for a final House vote on Wednesday. A temporary rule adopted by the House on Tuesday allowed the bill to advance with a simple majority vote, instead of the usual required sum of 102 votes.

"Seventeen Republicans broke with their leadership, who had favored the temporary stopgap measure, and joined with the chamber’s 83 Democrats.
“This isn't exactly how I predicted today to turn out,” said House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, speaking after the vote."
House abruptly changes course on state budget
By Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau December 22, 2015 7:22 PM
HARRISBURG -- Following a somewhat chaotic afternoon Tuesday of procedural maneuvering on the state House floor, a potential resolution to the state's long-running budget impasse appears to be back on the table.  The House had been expected to advance a partial year stopgap budget that the Governor had promised to veto. Instead, by the narrowest of margins in a 100-99 vote, they voted to revert to a so-called “framework” version of the budget Senators had sent them earlier in the month that also has the support of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

Roll Call Vote Senate Bill 1073 PN 1459
House of Representatives Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session Details for RCS# 1048
Tuesday Dec. 22, 2015 4:03PM

Gov. Wolf: "I’m pleased with the progress made in the House today"
The PLS Reporter Author: Alanna Koll/Tuesday, December 22, 2015 Video runtime :28
Gov. Wolf made brief remarks after the House voted to replace stopgap budget with Senate-approved budget. 

A Hail Mary in the House - and a #PaBudget, if they can keep it: Analysis
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 22, 2015 at 5:01 PM, updated December 22, 2015 at 6:33 PM
Somewhere, the ghosts of the Byzantines are shaking their heads at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  Republican insurgents, joined by Democrats who support the $30.8 billion "framework" budget, pulled a parliamentary rabbit out of their hats on Tuesday, setting up a vote, likely on Wednesday, that could finally end the state's six-month-old budget stalemate.  But stay with me on this one, because it gets complicated fast.  On Monday night, hours after the House Appropriations Committee amended the $30.8 billion, Senate-approved budget,replacing it with an 11-month, $28.1 billion "stopgap" plan, framework backers began hatching plans to undo the stopgap plan.

Finally, the Pa. House is ready to consider budget bill to end impasse
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 22, 2015 at 6:00 PM, updated December 22, 2015 at 10:19 PM
Some may call what happened in the state House on Tuesday the Miracle on Third Street.
The House went into the day making people believe it was going to be moving a $28.2 billion stopgap budget into position for a final vote possibly on Wednesday. They decided to tee up a $30.8 billion Senate-passed budget bill for a vote instead.   If it passes the House, it would go to Gov. Tom Wolf for enactment, ending a nearly six-month-long budget impasse that has held up state funding for school districts, counties and social services. That could be part of a marathon session that includes votes in both chambers on the budget bill, a tax bill to fund it, an amended pension bill that the House rejected on Saturday, and fiscal, school, and administrative codes. 

Final House Vote On Budget Bill May Not Happen Today, Wednesday NewsClips
Capitol Digest Blog by Crisci Associates December 23, 2015
In a dramatic 100 to 99 vote, the full House Tuesday voted to revert to the Senate’s “agreed-to” $30.8 billion General Fund budget bill-- Senate Bill 1073 (Browne-R-Lehigh)-- and then voted 100 to 97 to move the bill up for a final vote Wednesday.    If the House passes the bill Wednesday, it could be on the Governor’s desk for his action immediately.  House Majority Leader David Reed (R-Indiana) told reporters later Tuesday evening said the House can’t send a General Fund budget bill to the Governor until there is a Tax Code bill to pay for it.  Reed said the House is waiting for a Tax Code bill from the Senate as well as the outcome of negotiations on a pension reform bill between the Senate and House Democrats.
The Senate announced it is coming into voting session Wednesday at 1:00.
So will there be a final vote today in the House?  Time will tell.

Budget stalemate crumbling, but key disagreements remain
AP State Wire Published: Today
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania state government's 6-month-old budget stalemate is crumbling, but disagreements remain as lawmakers rush to approve bipartisan budget legislation before Christmas.  Wednesday will be busy in the state Capitol.   It's a day after Democrats and moderate Republicans defied House GOP majority leaders and narrowly sent a $30.8 billion spending bill supported by Gov. Tom Wolf over a key procedural hurdle. Republicans say it was only successful because Democrats voted for absent members, but GOP leaders didn't challenge it.  Elements of the budget deal remain unresolved.  Pension legislation favored by Senate Republicans stalled in the House, and it's unclear whether they'll hold up the budget for it. Meanwhile, the deal calls for a $1 billion-plus tax increase, and Senate Republicans have clashed with House members over whether to raise taxes on income or sales.

Votes signal breakthrough in Pennsylvania budget stalemate
AP State Wire By MARC LEVY and MARK SCOLFORO Published: Yesterday
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Democrats and moderate Republicans upended House GOP majority leaders on Tuesday, winning a series of close votes that signaled a potential breakthrough in Pennsylvania's 6-month-old budget stalemate.  The coalition sent a bipartisan spending bill over a key procedural hurdle, raising the possibility that the main appropriations bill in a $30.8 billion spending package could land on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's desk as early as Wednesday.  The spending bill, about a 6 percent increase, passed the Republican-controlled Senate two weeks ago. Wolf supports it as part of a wider budget package that has been hung up by House GOP opposition since the outlines of a bipartisan deal were announced in early November.
"We still have a ways to go, but this was a nice step in the right direction," Wolf said. "So we'll see what happens tomorrow, and I'm hoping that we continue the progress."

A Pa. budget deal for Christmas? by Chris Palmer, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: DECEMBER 23, 2015 1:08 AM .
HARRISBURG - In a dramatic twist, the Pennsylvania House reversed course Tuesday and positioned itself to vote on the $30.8 billion state spending plan backed by Gov. Wolf and Senate Republicans, setting up a possible sprint to end the months-long budget impasse by Christmas.  The shift came a day after the Republican-controlled House proposed a temporary budget and Wolf vowed to veto that plan if it reached his desk.  During a chaotic floor session Tuesday, House members suddenly abandoned their so-called stopgap proposal by a 100-99 vote, moving instead to consider the budget that the Senate has already passed.  It was the latest curveball in a budget season unlike any in more than a decade - and it appeared likely to trigger a sequence of maneuvers so other budget-related bills could be rammed through the House and Senate.

PPG Editorial: Capitol chaos: The Pa. House takes a wild ride toward a budget
Post Gazette By the Editorial Board December 23, 2015 12:00 AM
The state House, which had promised to pass a stop-gap budget and nothing more, gave the go-ahead Tuesday to the same spending plan that appeared dead last week. Maybe.
After a series of confusing, even questionable, procedural gimmicks, members voted 100-97 to send along the $30.78 billion budget that had been worked out by Gov. Tom Wolf and leaders from both parties in the House and Senate, and subsequently passed by the full Senate. House members on Tuesday seemed justifiably confused about what they were being asked to do, and it boiled down to this:
• No stop-gap budget, which is a good thing because that would have deprived Pennsylvanians of the predictability of a yearlong spending plan they’ve been waiting for since July 1.
• A budget that provides significantly more state dollars to fund public schools, a key priority for Mr. Wolf, who campaigned and won the governorship on that promise. That could be a good thing depending on how lawmakers intend to pay for it.
• No idea what the tax rates to support the plan will be. And that is a serious problem, the result of closed-door discussions that led to a so-called “framework” that was to include pension reform, changes to the state’s liquor system and a budget.

Pennsylvania's framework budget deal shows a pulse; but hard issues remain
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on December 22, 2015 at 10:57 PM, updated December 22, 2015 at 11:05 PM
It was another long, strange day on the Pennsylvania state budget front.  And at the end, it appeared things stood pretty much where they were last Friday - with renewed interest in the so-called $30.8 billion "framework" budget, but two or three major hurdles left between here and the governors' desk.  There was one singular achievement on the day for Gov. Tom Wolf and his allies.  For the first time in this six-month fiscal siege, a significant number of Republican House members broke from their majority on a recorded vote, creating a bipartisan coalition that - if it holds - is strong enough to pass Democrat Wolf's preferred spending plan and the tax increases needed to support it.

Congrats, Pa., you just tied the record for the longest-ever #PaBudget standoff: Tuesday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 22, 2015 at 8:45 AM, updated December 22, 2015 at 8:51 AM
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
As the state House convenes this Tuesday to take up an 11-month, $28.1 billion stopgap funding package, members of the 203-member chamber will do so knowing that they've just tied the standing record for Pennsylvania's longest-ever budget impasse.  For it was on this day, Dec. 22, 2003, that Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and the Republican-controlled General Assembly agreed to the final components of that year's state budget, breaking what was then the state's longest-ever budget impasse.  The nine-month stand-off included a tax hike, as well as full funding for Pennsylvania school districts, whose appropriation Rendell had line-item vetoed to force lawmakers to the negotiating table. A budget for the rest of state government was already in place.

Gov. Wolf calls latest stopgap budget attempt “a feel good exercise”
Author: Jason Gottesman/Tuesday, December 22, 2015/Categories: News and Views
Gov. Tom Wolf made a scheduled appearance on KDKA 1020AM’s morning show to discuss the state budget impasse and reaffirming his prior commitment to veto the 11-month emergency stopgap funding plan the House Republican caucus is currently moving through that chamber.  During the morning show appearance he, as on previous occasions with stopgap funding measures, called the current attempt “a feel good exercise.”  He made the comment while expressing his sympathy for schools that might not reopen after Christmas break due to a lack of state funding and an inability to get further loans to keep doors open.  “I am so sympathetic and so saddened by that, it should not have lasted this long,” he said of the budget impasse.  “But, we need a budget that actually funds those schools with real dollars and real revenue to back it up so that we have a balanced budget that makes the investments that those schools need,” he continued.  “So, we can go through the feel good exercise of saying we’re going to magically make some dollars appear with 11-months’ worth of funding for 12-months’ worth of expenditures, but everybody knows that the fundamental math doesn’t work. There’s no money.”

Blogger commentary: If businesses made charitable donations to these private and religious schools instead of diverting tax dollars this would not be an issue.
EITC/OSTC: Budget impasse threatens school choice tuition discount
Sharon Herald Posted: Saturday, December 19, 2015 7:00 am
The impact of the state budget impasse on public schools is well documented. The squeeze it threatens to put on private schools and their students has gone overlooked.  With just about everything else tied up by the budget impasse, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered that tax credits used to cover a portion of private school tuition be tied up, too.  The administration argues that the tax credits are spelled out in the tax code, which is passed in tandem with a budget.
Lawmakers and the governor scrambled – and ultimately failed – to pull together a deal last week. Unlike many artificial deadlines that the governor and lawmakers have ignored, a hard deadline looms for the tax credits.  If they aren’t released by the end of the year, the tax credits cannot be applied in 2015 to businesses that contribute to the program and operate on a fiscal year that follows the actual calendar.  Without knowing the budget, the Department of Community and Economic Development doesn’t know how much this year’s tax credits will be worth, said Heidi Havens, a department spokeswoman.  The Educational Improvement Tax Credit program allows businesses to make up $750,000 in donations to private schools or pre-kindergarten programs. Their money defrays tuition costs for more than 50,000 students statewide.
The program helps the poor but also benefits families well into the middle class. Families with one child can qualify with household incomes up to $90,000. That amount goes up $15,000 for each additional child.

Education Bloggers Daily Highlights 12-23-15

Testing Resistance & Reform News: December 16 - 22, 2015
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on December 22, 2015 - 1:27pm 
President Obama's signature on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was barely dry when grassroots activists began pressuring states to take advantage of their new power to reduce testing overkill. Already New York and Oklahoma have responded by walking back reliance on standardized exam scores to evaluate teachers.

PSBA New School Director Training
School boards who will welcome new directors after the election should plan to attend PSBA training to help everyone feel more confident right from the start. This one-day event is targeted to help members learn the basics of their new roles and responsibilities. Meet the friendly, knowledgeable PSBA team and bring everyone on your “team of 10” to get on the same page fast.
  • $150 per registrant (No charge if your district has a LEARN PassNote: All-Access members also have LEARN Pass.)
  • One-hour lunch on your own — bring your lunch, go to lunch, or we’ll bring a box lunch to you; coffee/tea provided all day
  • Course materials available online or we’ll bring a printed copy to you for an additional $25
  • Registrants receive one month of 100-level online courses for each registrant, after the live class
Remaining Locations:
  • Butler area — Jan. 9 Midwestern IU 4, Grove City (note: location changed from Penn State New Kensington)
  • Allentown area — Jan. 16 Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, Schnecksville
  • Central PA — Jan. 30 Nittany Lion Inn, State College
  • Delaware Co. IU 25 — Feb. 1
  • Scranton area — Feb. 6 Abington Heights SD, Clarks Summit
  • North Central area —Feb. 13 Mansfield University, Mansfield

NSBA Advocacy Institute 2016; January 24 - 26 in Washington, D.C.
Housing and meeting registration is open for Advocacy Institute 2016.  The theme, “Election Year Politics & Public Schools,” celebrates the exciting year ahead for school board advocacy.  Strong legislative programming will be paramount at this year’s conference in January.  Visit for more information.

Save the Dates for These 2016 Annual EPLC Regional State Budget Education Policy Forums
Sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Thursday, February 11 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Harrisburg
Wednesday, February 17 - 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. - Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania)
Thursday, February 25 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Pittsburgh
Invitation and more details in January

PASBO 61st Annual Conference and Exhibits March 8 - 11, 2016
Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania

The Network for Public Education 3rd Annual National Conference April 16-17, 2016 Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Network for Public Education is thrilled to announce the location for our 3rd Annual National Conference. On April 16 and 17, 2016 public education advocates from across the country will gather in Raleigh, North Carolina.  We chose Raleigh to highlight the tremendous activist movement that is flourishing in North Carolina. No one exemplifies that movement better than the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who will be the conference keynote speaker. Rev. Barber is the current president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the National NAACP chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee, and the founder of Moral Mondays.

Interested in letting our elected leadership know your thoughts on education funding, a severance tax, property taxes and the budget?
Governor Tom Wolf, (717) 787-2500

Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Turzai, (717) 772-9943
House Majority Leader Rep. Dave Reed, (717) 705-7173
Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Joe Scarnati, (717) 787-7084
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Jake Corman, (717) 787-1377

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