Friday, March 14, 2014

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #178 – March 13, 2014

[*NOTE: Thanks to Vic Smith for all his (and ICPE's) work on behalf of public education during this year's legislative session.]

Dear Friends,

Good news on the last day of the session: the preschool bill House Bill 1004 was passed today by both the House and the Senate creating a 5-county pilot program without any link to K-12 vouchers. Sections 10 and 11 which many of you have written about have disappeared. To public school advocates who contacted legislators about keeping K-12 vouchers out of the preschool bill, I say thank you!

This key bill represents both a new day for preschool in Indiana and a rare moment of success for public school advocates. Thanks to all who participated!

Details of House Bill 1004

A silence lasting several days on the preschool bill was broken when a Conference Committee on 1004 was held at 9:00 am this morning. Representative Behning reviewed the key features of the Conference Committee report:
  • A pilot program will be established in five counties selected by FSSA.
  • The Family and Social Services Administration will supervise the program.
  • Families making 127% of poverty will qualify for grants of $2500 up to $6800.
  • It will be funded by unspent money reverted to FSSA and by CCDF block grant money.
  • At least 10% of the funds are to be from private donations or from federal funding.
  • The receipt of a grant has no impact on eligibility for a K-12 choice scholarship.
  • A longitudinal study will follow 4 year olds in the program through their assessment results in Grade 3.
  • Expenditures are limited to $10 million in the first year, with a limit of an additional $1 million for the longitudinal study.
  • Providers may include public or private preschools that meet Level 3 or 4 standards in the “paths to Quality program.”
  • A prekindergarten and early learning study commission will study ten key topics to develop Indiana’s program.
All members of the Conference Committee should be thanked for advancing this proposal: Representatives Behning, VanDenburgh, Thompson, Sullivan and Vernon Smith and Senators Pete Miller, Rogers, Kenley, Broden, Kruse and Yoder. Senator Kenley played a crucial role in bringing the House and Senate versions together.

Floor Votes on HB 1004

The House voted first this afternoon on HB 1004, passing the bill 92-8. All Democrats voted for the bill along with most Republicans, except for Representative Baird, Culver, Harman, Ober, Rhoads, Thompson, Turner and Wesco.

I was able to hear the floor debate in the Senate. Senator Pete Miller introduced and supported the bill as the sponsor. Senator Schneider then rose to oppose the bill, calling it a “budget buster” and a “camel’s nose under the tent” for a “catastrophic fiscal impact on the state of Indiana.” Senator Holdman supported the bill, especially the longitudinal study and the “paths to Quality” standards. Senator Head rose to support the bill, saying it is run on reverted funds and that the sunset provisions “won’t let the camel get too far.” Senator Becker supported the bill, saying that Evansville business leaders have already told her they will help support the matching dollars. Senator Rogers then rose to support the bill, saying that if we can expend revenue for breaks to business as they just did for Senate Bill 1, they can fund a small preschool pilot program. She called it a matter of priorities. Senator Leising supported the bill, urging the early learning commission to coordinate several early childhood programs already funded by federal and special education dollars.

Then came the vote. The Senate passed the bill 40-8, with Senators Crider, Delph, Kruse, Schneider, Smith, Tomes, Yoder, and Michael Young voting no.

Senate Bill 1 easily passed both houses today allowing local options to reduce the business property tax and putting approximately $2 million in school property tax funding at risk two years from now, as I described in Statehouse Notes #177 last Tuesday.

The House adjourned sine die about 10:00 pm this evening and the Senate did the same at 10:40. The short session is over. It is a rare treat and a great pleasure to be able to report a success for public education on the last day of the session.

Your messages throughout the session on behalf of public education made a big difference. Thanks for participating!

Please keep up your steadfast support of public schools!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. The 2014 session of the General Assembly is now over. Joel Hand did an excellent job representing ICPE throughout the session. We need your membership to help pay the bills for ICPE lobbying efforts. Many have renewed their memberships already, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew by going to our website.

Although ICPE entered this session of the General Assembly in better financial shape than in any previous session, we still need additional support to fund the commitments our board has made for our lobbying efforts. We are counting on your financial help during the session.

We have raised the needed money in past sessions, and we must do so again. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.icpe2011.com for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!


Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998.
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