Beware of the ides of March when it comes to school finance.
“The Attorney General has informed us that, if we do what we are supposed to do, if we do what the Supreme Court has basically ordered us to do, the deadline that he has set for preparing the state’s case when it goes to a hearing is March 15th,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley.
That date appears to be contingent on passing the Governor’s plan, a plan that has been supported with testimony by representatives of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Schools for Fair Funding.
“If we don’t do that, if we get into a contentious debate over school finance and the Republicans decide that they want to somehow change the school finance formula, then the deadline is March the first, which was his deadline last year,” said Hensley.
The legislature ignored that deadline last year and asked for more time. This time around though, they don’t have their own legal counsel giving them additional advice or obtaining a legal record, should the formula be tweaked at all.
“I understand that the Senate tax reform committee decided to introduce another bill, an alternative bill that would actually fund the school finance case for just one year,” said Hensley.
That would appear, on its face, not to address the court’s primary concern, which is to get the inflation factored into the five-year ramp up of the current formula. This would seem at cross purposes with previously stated desires by legislative leadership to get out of the cycle of litigation when it comes to school finance.
Hensley stated that if any school finance bill makes it to the Senate floor, he plans to draw up an amendment that would allow a vote on the governor’s plan to happen.