House and Senate budget writers worked late nights this week and also opened talks with Governor Roy Cooper in an effort to compromise on key differences in the 3 proposed state spending plans pushed forward this session. The major sticking point from the Governor’s perspective, based on social media reports from his staff, continues to be reluctance from lawmakers to include Medicaid expansion in the final state budget. Late this week he suggested that budget negotiations be split into two tracks, with one focusing on Medicaid and other health care issues and the other focusing on all other issues tied to the state budget framework.
House and Senate negotiators today reached an agreement on what changes to teacher licensure should be included in Senate Bill 219, and the full House voted 107-1 to approve the compromise legislation. If the full Senate follows suit in its floor session Monday night 6/24 as hoped, the time-sensitive measure could soon be on its way to Governor Roy Cooper. The new SB 219, sponsored by Sen. Tom McInnis (R-Richmond), would provide much-needed help to districts to recruit and retain needed teachers by allowing proven educators to fill teacher vacancies while pursuing their continuing professional licenses (CPL).
Although state budget negotiations have been the major focus this week, several policy bills affecting public education also garnered General Assembly action, including two bills that have cleared both the House and Senate and are now on their way to the Governor’s desk. The House on Wednesday concurred with Senate changes to the following two bills and then sent them on for Governor Roy Cooper’s consideration: HB 57, Create Term for Public Schools & Codify NCVPS – Defines "public school unit" to refer collectively to multiple types of public schools, including those operated by LEAs, charters, regional schools, innovative schools, the residential schools for the deaf and blind, laboratory schools, and the residential School of the Arts high school, and the residential School of Science and Mathematics. Also codifies the NC Virtual Public School into law, rather than only as an ongoing state budget provision. HB 664, myFutureNC/Postsecondary Attainment Goal – Establishes a state goal to make significant efforts to increase access to learning so that by 2030, 2,000,000 residents between the ages of 25 and 44 will have completed a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree. Also requires annual reporting on this effort, beginning in September 2020.
A House measure addressing one of the Top 5 Legislative Priorities for the NC Association of School Administrators (NCASA) has remained stalled in the Senate Rules Committee since March 28 until the NCASA advocacy team this week helped convince Senate lawmakers to schedule the bill for a hearing next Wednesday, 6/26, in the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee. House Bill 362, sponsored by Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union), would permanently extend the 15-point scale used for calculating school performance grades. This legislation is among NCASA’s top priorities for 2019 because of the significant consequences it holds for public schools operated by LEAs and charters statewide, as outlined in our issue brief shared with lawmakers earlier this legislative session.