Senate Session update ~ week 11


Week No. 11 of 56th Legislature

Total Senate Bills and SJRs introduced in 2017: 877

Total reported from committees: 412

Total reported out of the Senate: 347

BUDGET

The Senate continues work on the FY18 budget

o Senate Republicans are meeting regularly to discuss different aspects of the budget

o Senate Appropriators are looking at the budget of every agency, evaluating everything about agencies’ budgets

o Budget bills continue to make their way through the legislative process – being considered and evaluated by the Senate Appropriations Committee and House A&B committee

 A variety of proposals are being discussed to help fill the nearly $900 million shortfall

o All options are on the table; the solution will likely be a combination of new revenue streams, tax credit reform, agency efficiencies, and apportionment reform

 The budget process is advancing on pace, in line with previous years

BUDGET REFORMS

o The Senate took some of the first steps this year passing legislation that will help address the nearly $900 million shortfall

HB2343 (David) expected to increase compliance with state sales tax laws – and is expected to yield approximately $17 million

HB 2344 (David) lowers the cap on the state film tax credit by $1 million from $5 million to $4 million

The Senate has approved and the governor has signed into law acceleration of the sunset of the wind-energy tax credit

House this week approved SB 170 (Thompson) eliminating the “income tax cut trigger”

o These measures represent Senate Republicans’ commitment to reforms that provide stability and reliability in the state budget.

 Senate Republicans are working diligently on the budget, in an effort to minimize the impact of likely budget cuts on core services such as education, public safety, health care and transportation.

EDUCATION

Teacher Pay Raise:

o The Senate is working on HB 1114 (Smalley), which is the House plan for a teacher pay raise

o Senate Republicans hope by the end of the session to approve a framework for a pay raise

We have to fill in the nearly $900 million shortfall before we can add new expenses

o Moving the bill forward to keep discussions ongoing during the Legislature.

Modifying accountability standards

o Senate approved HB 1693 (Stanislawski) repeals the old A-F system and puts into place a new framework and basic components for a new A-F accountability system. This ensures Oklahoma will be compliant with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

ESSA takes away power from Washington bureaucrats, and gives Oklahoma parents and teachers more authority and more responsibility to improve our schools

The A-F system in Oklahoma gives students, parents, teachers, and local officials an easy-to-understand letter grade of the performance of the school

 The new A-F system has multiple measures and gives multiple grades, plus an overall grade, just like a typical student report card

 The system also provides a dashboard allowing parents, teachers, and the local community to take a “deeper dive” into the school report cards – empowering them with knowledge on where their school succeeds and where it may need improvement

 For the first time, the A-F system measures postsecondary opportunities for high school students

Shoring up the teacher retirement system:

o The Senate approved HB 1162 (Stanislawski) increasing from 5 years to 7 years the amount of time a teacher must serve in Oklahoma to be vested in the state retirement system

This move ensures the Retirement System will have on hand the funds necessary to fund teacher retirements

Follows up on the move by Republicans in the Legislature in recent years to provide approximately $1 billion to shore up the teacher retirement system; it had been one of the worst funded retirement systems in the nation until action by Republican leaders

4-day school weeks

o The Senate this week approved HB 1684 (Fields) which requires school districts moving to a 4- day school week to submit their plan to the State Board of Education

o This follows a report this week by the Oklahoma State Department of Education that said there were minimal cost savings for 4-day school weeks, and a majority of districts saw increases

OSDE analyzed expenditures of 16 school districts that have been on a four-day school week for six years. Results indicate that nine districts actually spent more money, on average, after the switch, while cost savings for the remainder were negligible.

When OSDE combined expenditures of all 16 districts, those districts spent on average $4,523 more on utilities, $2,714 less on food, $1,971 less on transportation and $8,542 more on support staff after switching to a four-day week than they had spent before the change. (OSDE info)

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