Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bills referred to Committee

Tuesday morning, the House began referring bills to respective committees of jurisdiction.  I’m keeping a list of legislation assigned to the Education Committee.

Supplemental budget details

Early Tuesday afternoon, I attended Appropriations Committee briefings on the Governor’s supplemental budget.  Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen presented the details relating to education which include:

  • Curtailing state’s contribution to General Purpose Aid to education for the current school year by $15.5 million, from $910,661,214 to $895,142,711.  This reduction is accomplished through several mechanisms – notably by transferring the state’s liability for teacher retirement payments to local districts and by reducing local reimbursement for special education costs to districts such as MDI.
  • Transferring $14 million in dedicated revenue from the Oxford Casino (which was approved with a statutory dedication to fund K-12 Essential Programs and Services) by ‘sweeping’ it from the EPS account into the General Fund to balance the state budget.
  • Re-focusing the Fund for Efficient Delivery of Services to exclude collaboratives that do not include Career and Technical Centers and to eliminate the requirement that the grants be made competitively allowing the Department of Education more discretion over the awards.
  • Reducing eligibility for disabled children receiving services under the Child Development Services system if they are eligible instead to attend kindergarten.
  • Increasing the amount added to the tuition allowance paid to private academies under the Insured Value Factor from 5% to 10%. This apparently represents an increase of about $2 million – which seems unusual for legislation propelled by spending curtailment.

School mission and vision

Late Tuesday afternoon, I returned to MDI and participated in a school board subcommittee meeting reviewing the MDI Regional School System’s mission and vision. Our ‘Core Four’ beliefs strongly address the current application of our schools vision. Check them out.

Municipal revenue sharing

Tuesday evening, I attended the Bar Harbor Town Council meeting. The Council is gravely concerned about the Governor’s proposal to eliminate municipal revenue sharing and adopted this resolution in support of the Maine Service Centers Coalition’s 2013 legislative priorities:

    “to adopt the Maine Service Center Coalition’s 2013 legislative priorities, request that our representatives in Augusta work to advance these issues and communicate to our State delegation that these are also priorities for the Town of Bar Harbor in the context of a balanced State budget.”