Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The budget's in the home stretch...

...and the end of this year's legislative session is in sight...

Well, it looks like the lege is finally going to pass a budget within the next day or so.

Yesterday, the Senate amended and passed a number of budget-related bills and transmitted them to the House. Earlier today, the House Democratic and Republican caucuses heard the bills, clearing the way for floor action.

Today and tomorrow, I plan to do a series of posts addressing some of the nuggets of ugly (and good, where they exist) in the various budget reconciliation bills (BRBs).

First up - HB2790, K-12 Education BRB

Ugly -

A section that requires that someone applying for or renewing a teaching certificate submit an identity-verified fingerprint card and, even though it is a condition of employment, pay for the processing of the card and its related paperwork themselves.

Oh yeah – in a jab at teachers at public and publicly-chartered schools, nothing in the language in the section applies to private schools.

Not sure if this is ugly or good -

A section that creates “an instructional technology pilot program” to upgrade classroom academic technology in one school district TBD.

The reason that I'm unsure about this is that I seem to recall that a similar proposal was floated as an independent bill earlier in the session. One of the arguments raised against that proposal was that it was worded in such a way that there was only one vendor who could supply all of the needed equipment and software. In other words, it was a 'sweetheart' bill.

I don't see that the BRB language has anything that specifies how the money would be spent, so this section might actually be good, or at least harmless.

Good -

There is a section establishing a math or science achievement program. “The purpose of the program is to promote improved pupil achievement in mathematics or science by providing supplemental funding for innovative mathematics or science programs.”

Actually, pending the creation of standards and criteria for the program by the State Board of Ed, this could be really good.

More later!


Anonymous said...

Arizona public school teachers are already required to be fingerprinted. The fingerprinting and card costs $60.00, and must be renewed every three years.
Maybe the "public charter school" language in the budget is new. It will be nice to have publicly funded charter schools held to the same standards as "traditional" public schools on at least this issue.

cpmaz said...

After looking at that for a while, I realized that perhaps the biggest change there was the language specific to the 'identity-verified fingerprint card' process.

It's still insulting to make the teachers pay for a public background check that is required for employment with the public sector.

AZW88 said...

The card now renews every six years,

AZW88 said...

Do you know who added the Technology funding(1-2-1 laptop initiative) back to the budget? The funding request was originally for $4 million for 7 high schools, and now the focus is K-8?

Was the governor against the bill? (I've heard a rumor that she helped kill it)

cpmaz said...

AZW88 -

I don't know who put the Tech language in the bill, and the people I can ask (a few state legislators) may not know either.

Language is sometimes slipped in quietly, so quietly that only the leadership knows, and unless you ask, they aren't talking.

However, I'll be talking to a couple of people next week, and I'll see what they know.