LB 719 (1992)
April 8, 1992
SPEAKER BAACK: LB 1138A passes. We will now proceed to Item 8 on the agenda and Select File, LB 719.
CLERK: Mr. President, amendments to 1019 to be printed in the Journal, very quickly, if I may do that. (See Senator Wesely's AM4142 as found on pages 2074-76 of the Legislative Journal.)
Mr. President, 719 is on Select File. When we were discussing 719, Mr. President, Senator Lamb had an amendment to the bill, AM3762 that there was a request for division. Two portions were adopted. Senator Lamb, I now have pending, Senator, AM... the third part, Section 3, if you will, of AM3762. (Senator Lamb's FA356 is found on pages 1866-67 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Lamb.
SENATOR LAMB: Yes, Mr. Speaker and members, what page is that, Mr. Clerk, if I could ask?
CLERK: I'm looking, Senator. I'll have it posted.
SENATOR LAMB: Okay, nevertheless, as you may remember, two parts of the amendment were adopted. There was a division of the question and when we ... when we left the debate we were debating the third part of the amendment which is the growth provision. This provides that the growth provision is received by the schools a year earlier. This... this, I think, is fair because it seems to me that since we do have the growth provision in the distribution formula it only follows that that money should be available when those schools need it, and so that's the reason this part of the amendment is in here and it accelerates by one year the 1 and 25 growth provision. That means if the student population grows by 1 percent plus 25 students, then those schools are eligible for additional state aid. However, under the current provision, it's two years down the road. This would make it, those schools, eligible for that additional state aid one year earlier and I would... I would give the remainder of my time, if she cares to use it., to Senator Schimek, if she wants to use my time, the remainder of my time.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Schimek.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: Thank you, Senator Lamb. Mr. President and members of the body, I rise in support of this amendment and was just doing some quick figures here. Lincoln Public Schools is one of the schools, of course, that has the particular problem that this amendment references and we have about 700 and some
new students a year which, if you figure about 25 students per classroom, means 28 additional classrooms per year, and any school system, no matter what size, that has that many new classrooms has to hire that many new teachers, let alone other resources like textbooks and supplies and finding space for these classrooms, has some severe budgetary problems. And if they have to wait two years for that state aid to follow them, then that's going to cause them some worries. So I guess, on behalf of all the school districts, like Lexington and Lincoln and others that have these kinds of increases, I would simply urge support of the Lamb amendment. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Schimek. Mr. Clerk, we have an amendment to the amendment.
CLERK: Mr. President, I had an amendment to Senator Lamb's amendment from Senator Hall. Senator Hall is excused until he arrives.
SPEAKER BAACK: Is there anyone here who is authorized to handle this for Senator Hall? If not, we'll simply ... we'll simply proceed. Discussion on the amendment. Senator Schrock.
SENATOR SCHROCK: Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature, I'd like to address this issue and I'd like to have you keep in mind that no district is going to lose money, no district is going to gain money in the final outcome. It's just they're going to receive their money a year earlier for the students that they have enrolled. I'd also like to tell you about the Lexington Public School System, if you think your school system has problems. In August of 1990, the Lexington Public Schools had 1,678 students enrolled. A year later, 1991, they had 1,854 students enrolled, an increase of about 180. They now have 1,915 students enrolled, an increase of almost 250 from less than two years ago. They have received 488 new students, but they've had 220 students leave. They have an industry there that has really caused a lot of turmoil in their educational system and I commend the administration and the faculty of Lexington for handling the system as well as can be expected. They have tried to pass a bond issue and, like most bond issues, it has failed so they have an overcrowding problem and, in addition to that, they're not going to receive the money for these additional students in time to help their taxing problem. .-Do this is a fairness issue. I think they should be able to receive this money a year earlier to relieve the burden on their
taxpayers. There's not going to be any more money for Lexington down the road, it's just that they get their money a year sooner. So I would hope that you would consider this as a fairness issue and if you look at this chart that was passed out and you see that your school is losing money, they're not losing money, they're just losing it a year earlier than they would normally receive it. I've talked to Tim Kemper. He said dollarwise it's not going to make a dime difference in the long run, I suppose, unless you figured interest, it's not going to make any difference in the long run to any school. You'll all receive the amount of money due you depending on your enrollment. It's just a question of when. And this accelerates the rapid growth districts. It accelerates their funding so they get their money a year in advance. If you have any questions, I'll be glad to try and answer this. I know Senator Withem understands the issue better than I do. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Schrock. While the Legislature is in session and capable of transacting business, I propose to sign and do sign LB 1138 and LB 1138A. The next speaker is Senator Schimek. Did you wish to address this again? Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Senator Schrock, would you yield to a couple of questions at this time?
SENATOR SCHROCK: I will.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Schrock.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: One of the reasons I divided the questions, I just wanted to make sure that the body understood what was happening. I hadn't really taken a position whether I was going to support or not this particular portion, the third part of the Lamb amendment, but I began asking some questions about how much would the shift be and what effect would it have. You made a comment that no one will win or lose. I guess I'm going to ask the question, in the short term, would that be a... is that a totally fair statement to make? In the short term, when I look at the sheet and I see 34 gainers and the rest lose as far as money, in the short term, that it's not accurate to say that no one loses I think, but you're referring to the long term, I am assuming, that when the monies would actually kick in the way the bill is written now on the 1059, that shift would occur and so, in the long term, that shift would take place
April 8, 19-92
rather than in the short term. So you're taking the long view, I would assume.
SENATOR SCHROCK: That is correct, Senator.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Okay, but you would not argue at this point that in accelerating it now it would have a, at least, in a short term effect a... it could have differences of some large proportions on school districts that they had not anticipated. Would that be fair?
SENATOR SCHROCK: Senator Bernard-Stevens, you're absolutely correct, but I think 1059 was passed as a fairness issue and so, to me, this is fair...
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Okay.
SENATOR SCHROCK: ...because they...
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Okay, thank you, Senator Schrock. Yeah.
SENATOR SCHROCK: But you are correct.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Okay, thank you. I wanted to clarify that and I guess I kind of agree but I wanted to go on a different angle, if I may. I agree with what Senator Schrock is saying about 1059 was a fairness issue and it certainly was. That's one of the things we argued time and time again, we needed to be fair in regards to how we funded schools and making it an equal opportunity for all children in Nebraska. That was, indeed, one of the basic premises of the support of the bill. And the Nebraska public, they understood that and when the petitions went and the public voted on it, they voted to maintain the opportunity for children in the State of Nebraska in education. However, one of the things that we put in 1059 was an acknowledgement that in rapid growth districts they would need to have some help and we put in the formula that there would be a delay before they could get that and it ended up being about two years because of the funding sources and the amount of monies that we're going to be... and the timing of it, so it was put in. My argument is that the school districts that Senator Schimek was referring to and my own school district, North Platte Public Schools, we would be a...we would gain on this particular proposal. My argument is that we will, in fact,
be ... get that money at some point. Those school districts will be able to plan for that. They can plan for that and they'll be able to adjust budgets. If we make the adjustment right now, one of my concerns are some of the school districts that will be losing immediately, even though it .;ould be argued they would lose this money in the long term anyway, in the short term some of the districts are affected, like 14 percent. You know, they'll have a 14 percent drop. And in some school districts it may not be a lot of money but the percentages of that shift immediately is one that they may not be able to quickly adjust to and I think we need to at least discuss that to say is that... is... if we're talking a fairness issue, is it fair to put the pressure on them in the short term when they didn't expect it, when they have to scramble, so that others who would receive the money anyway can get their money faster? I mean that, to me, is... should be what the discussion is about and which is the fairest policy. And I don't disagree that in the long term the shift takes place. Where I disagree and I think we need to look at is the flexibility of those to be able to adjust themselves in the short term...
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: ...at this particular point, and I'm looking at school districts again and you look at the differences, there's a 9 percent loss, here's a 13.4 percent on the state aid side, a 14.6 percent hit, 17.6 percent hit, another 17.2, a 16.5 percent hit, an 18.2 percent hit, differences in the state aid that they receive. Those school districts are going to feel that immediately and I think they're going to have some difficulty adjusting to that and I question whether that is fair on the other side, particularly in the viewpoint that the school districts will be receiving that extra money for their growth at some point. That's the argument I wanted to bring forward. That's the policy decision the body needs to make and that's why the question was divided. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Bernard-Stevens. Senator Schmit. I do not see Senator Schmit. Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, members of the body, I'd like to address some of the things Senator Bernard-Stevens said about this particular amendment and I think a couple of things Senator Bernard-Stevens said are probably accurate, but misleading, as
statistics can oftentimes be. They're accurate in a technical sense, although some of the things he said weren't accurate in a technical sense, but they tend to paint an inaccurate picture. First of all, you need to understand what the printout is. Unfortunately, in this age of computers, we all tend to simplify things down to the smallest or to the simplest thing to understand and we ask for a printout such as this and we then look at a particular number on that sheet to get the total picture. You know, I sometimes think that if you just make up a set of numbers and run them through a computer and get them on a printout, that would prove conclusively an individual's case and people wouldn't look to the underlying assumptions underneath them. What this print... first of all, the Department of Education had a very difficult time modeling the impacts of this particular amendment. What they did was they took a year in the past, 1991-92, and they said what would have happened with state aid in that year had this provision been in effect and they compared it with what actually did happen. Keep in mind that's not what's going to happen with the ... if the Schrock amendment is adopted, because there will be increases in state aid because of the increased appropriation for '92-93 and '93-94. So there will be more money in the system being distributed, number one. There will be changes in valuation brought about through growth in our economy, increased buildings, homes that have been built, so valuations will have changed. There will be the impact of the ag land valuation issue. All of those things will also interact with this so the impact of ... on any given school district of what we do as a result of this amendment won't be what happens on this printout. This is just if everything else remained exactly the same, this is what would have happened. Secondly, one of the things Senator Bernard-Stevens said is we put a rapid growth provision in 1059 and all this amendment does is move it up more quickly. It's not true. There is no rapid growth provision as an adjustment of aid that comes from the state in LB 1059. What we put in LB 1059 was an exemption from the lid for rapid growth allowing school districts to tax local property tax owners, property owners at a higher level if they have rapid growth. There's nothing in the bill dealing with rapid growth as a bonus in state aid. What happens is, because all of this data comes into the State Department of Education at different phases throughout the cycle, we fund based on two-year-old data and what Senator Schrock is saying in these cases where there is rapid growth, where the kids are there, don't make those school districts wait two years to be able to count these kids into their needs base. They don't get a bonus
for rapid growth. What they do is two years down the road after the kids show up they finally get to count the kids in their... in their ... not in their lid, they get to count them in their needs...
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR WITHEM: ...Just like they count ... was that time? One minute, okay. So there is no rapid growth bonus in the bill, and this really isn't a bonus. They just get to count the kids when they show up. It is ... well, one other comment I want to make. I'll just punch my light.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Senator Cudaback.
SENATOR CUDABACK: Mr. Speaker, members of the body, for the sake of time without reiterating, I will simply back up 100 percent what Senator Schrock said. Senator BernardStevens also had a point and Senator Withem has made some strong points here and I'd like to back those up and I'll ask you to support the amendment. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Cudaback. Senator Beutler.
SENATOR BEUTLER: Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature, I guess I'm standing in support of the amendment and it's difficult to look at these things out of' context. There was a point in time in, I know, last year and for most of this year in the Education Committee when 1059 was discussed in any substantive sense, when proposals for changes that involve big dollar amounts were suggested in any substantive sense, the general course of action that was suggested by the education leadership was, well, let's let 1059 sit here a couple of years and then we'll all get together, we'll all get together and we'll talk about the tier system that Lincoln thinks is unfair and we'll talk about hold harmless, which some other people think is unfair, and we'll talk about rapid growth, which has a big dollar impact. And then all of a sudden one of those items, the hold harmless, appears on the floor and is adopted into 719. And now here is a second piece, and this whole agreement, what I thought was an agreement not to do anything substantive about 1059 until the 1059 Committee, our other educational leaders, have gotten together again, seems to be breaking down and it puts me in a very difficult position. I guess I will support this amendment, but if this amendment fails then I'm certainly
going to go back to the concept that we should just leave 1059 alone until we have all met and negotiated what differences we have and that involves taking the hold harmless amendment off of this bill so that we're back to a level playing field and I just want to make that clear that that's the path we're going down if hold ha rmless and this bill together don't represent a consensus ,if the Legislature and I think that's only fair. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Beutler. Senator Schimek.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: Yes, thank you, Mr. President and members of the body. I am going to speak briefly and then give some time to Senator Withem. I'd like to thank him for his explanation of the figures that you received on this sheet. I think that all of us, as he said, tend to look at these figures and take them as the gospel and Senator Withem has explained to us how these figures are only a point in time and how many things are going to affect these figures this year. I guess I would just like to make an appeal to you, particularly based on some of Senator Beutler's comments that, yes, there may have been some consensus about waiting; yes, there does need to be consideration of some other issues, but I do believe that, as Senator Schrock mentioned, this is a fairness issue. I just can't tell you how difficult it is for the Lincoln Public School systems to deal with not only last year's 700 new students but the year before that 700 new students and the year before that and projected again into the future. The growth isn't going to stop for some of these schools. And not only is the growth there, not only do you have the ordinary expenses associated with growth like this, but in the case of at least some communities you have other kinds of expenses because of language and cultural differences that the community has to help meet and absorb, and I know that's true in the Lincoln Public Schools. Our languages as a second... our classes for second language have increased dramatically over the last five or six years so we're not just talking about the ordinary student expenses, but on top of that some extraordinary expenses. I do think it's a fairness issue and I would like to plead for your ... your vote for this amendment to push it forward and, with that, I would like to turn over my remaining time to Senator Withem.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: The only other point I wanted to make is I know some people here from the Lincoln Public Schools and the Omaha
Public Schools look down here and they see big numbers. A point is that big numbers happen in big school districts. I just found out from the Department of Education, I asked them what would happen to Omaha Public Schools' state aid to education if they had a one-tenth of one percent increase in their assessed valuation. That would cause them to lose $70,000, just one-tenth of one percent. And the point of that is that any time you make any changes or any time you... as a matter of fact, any time you leave it in place and the factors out there that we don't control adjust, you have an increase In the valuation of ag land, you have a decrease in the valuation of ag land, the income levels in rural Nebraska go up or the income levels in rural Nebraska go down, any of these factors that are in 1059 are going to have an impact in the distribution and any of those changes are going to have big number impacts in Lincoln, are going to have big number impacts in Omaha because those school districts deal with big numbers. And so you shouldn't be terribly alarmed by looking down and seeing a $300,000 change in Omaha Public Schools' state aid. I mean, I'm sure they're going to be concerned with that, but there are hundreds of other thing:, that go on out there that have similar sorts of impacts. That is less than one-half of one percent, or it Is one-half of one percent of their total ...
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR WITHEM: ...total state aid. So I have been rambling on here talking about the technicalities and haven't really spoken to the issue itself, and the issue itself is we're expecting school districts out there to educate kids as they come in the door. We don't give them an opportunity to turn kids away and say, no, I'm sorry, we have too many now. We tell them they have o educate those kids. And those school districts that' have enough rapid growth that causes them to have to hire new teachers, buy new supplies, in some cases build new buildings to accommodate their, their aid ought to...that the state gives them ought to flow in in a quicker fashion and I support the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Senator Haberman.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Mr. President, members of the body, I have a question for Senator Schrock, please.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Schrock, would you respond, please?
SENATOR SCHROCK: Yes.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Senator Schrock, would you give me your definition of short term and long term?
SENATOR SCHROCK: Well, as I understand, the money will be advanced one year sooner for the increased enrollment, so that's one year.
SENATOR HABERMAN: It's my understanding, to put this simply, the losses on this sheet we have a choice of doing it now or basically in two years. Is that correct, putting it real simply?
SENATOR SCHROCK: That's correct, Senator. They hey would have lost the money anyway, Senator.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Well, now wait ... wait a minute now. The choice is doing it now having them lose the money or do it in two years.
SENATOR SCHROCK: I think it's one year, Senator Haberman.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Okay, one year. This is correct, right? Senator Withem? Thank you, Senator Schrock. Senator Withem, do you agree with the statement that the losses shown on this sheet, that the...what happens is, if we adopt this amendment, it's a loss now to these schools except in, as Senator Schrock says, one year. Is that correct? This sheet shows a loss to some of these schools.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yeah, I understand that.
SENATOR HABERMAN: And I would like to know when that loss occurs, now or in a year or two years, whichever, we're batting back and forth.
SENATOR WITHEM: I'm not sure this sheet shows that this will be the loss that actually happens. This is a sheet based on old numbers.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Let's say that... let's say... let's say that this is an estimate of the loss. Let's don't say this is a loss right to the penny. What I'm trying to find out, does this
sheet show an estimate of a loss to these schools?
SENATOR WITHEM: Yeah, that's what it shows. Yes.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Okay. So this estimate of a loss will trigger in now, or will trigger in in a short term, as Senator Schrock says, one or two years.
SENATOR WITHEM: It will trigger in the first year in which the change that he's attempting to make is used in calculating the distribution. I'll be honest with you, I don't know the effective date. I have not read that part of the amendment to know what the effective date is, but it will occur in the first year in which the effective date.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Of what?
SENATOR WITHEM: Of his res...of his amendment.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Thank you. Senator Schrock, can you answer the question? Let's say that these, according to Senator Withem, these figures are estimates, so let's... I'll concede that, but what I would like to know, these schools are going to lose this money, I think that's been stated on the floor and is a fact, but I would like to know when.
SENATOR SCHROCK: Senator Haberman, I don't know when 1059 funds are distributed, but I know that they will receive the money one year or they'll lose the money one year in advance of what they would normally have lost it. There's a one-year time table there. And they would have lost this money down the road anyway, Senator Haberman, so....
SENATOR HABERMAN: Okay. Thank you. Let me ask Senator Lamb a question. Senator Lamb, due to your amendment, I have a question here. The figures we're going to say are...
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR HABERMAN: ...estimates. When is the loss going to occur?
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Lamb.
SENATOR LAMB: Senator Haberman, this is... reading from the
amendment on page 1866 of the Journal, the calc...
SENATOR HABERMAN: I don't have to: much time. Can you just answer my question?
SENATOR LAMB: Ninety-two, ninety-three.
SENATOR HABERMAN: This loss...
SENATOR LAMB: The school year.
SENATOR HABERMAN: ...is going to occur to these schools...
SENATOR LAMB: State aid to be paid in school year '92-93.
SENATOR HABERMAN: So all of the schools on this list are going to lose that money in '92 to '93.
SENATOR LAMB: That's correct.
SENATOR HABERMAN: And they're going to make it up when?
SENATOR LAMB: Oh, we have this pool of money...
SENATOR HABERMAN: I can't...
SENATOR LAMB: ..and the losses and the gains will both be in '92-93.
SENATOR HABERMAN: So those schools that lose the money estimated on this sheet will never get it back.
SENATOR LAMB: Well, it depends on the growth.
SENATOR HABERMAN: If they don't grow, they won't get it back.
SENATOR LAMB: That's probably correct, although growth changes it and things change as so far as valuations are concerned.
SPEAKER BAACK: Time.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Well, I need some more time.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Schrock.
SENATOR SCHROCK: I was going to call the question, but I hate to cut Senator Haberman short, so I'll yield some time to Senator Haberman if he wants to ask another question.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Haberman.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Senator Lamb, I received notices from two counties where I own farmland. The valuation has gone down. Now we've heard on this floor that the valuations can remain the same or go up and if it goes up, everybody is doing okay. But what happens if the valuation goes down?
SENATOR LAMB: Well, Senator Haberman, as far as state aid is concerned, if valuations go up in a school district then, in general, they get less state aid and if valuations go down, then they get more state aid.
SENATOR HABERMAN: However, they would have to go down quite a bit. For example, Omaha loses $303,000. Their valuations would have to go down considerably for them to receive that money back when, in fact, their valuations might go up on their houses due to the 1036, but is this correct, that Omaha, for example, my district we lose bundles, but Omaha would lose 303,000. They don't make! that back.
SENATOR LAMB: Not under this amendment, Senator Haberman.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Senator Schrock, you can have your time back.
SENATOR SCHROCK: Senator Haberman, I'm not sure I understand this completely, but I posed the question to Tim Kemper. If we took this formula and extended it out three or four years from now, who would lose and who would gain? He said no district would receive any more money than they would have received in the first place; no district will lose any more money than they would have lost in the first place. So if Lexington, all of a sudden, has a flat enrollment three years from now, their net gain would have been zero under this formula or under the old formula. So your school districts out there that show a loss here, they would have lost that over a cumulative period of time anyway. Now, if you want to figure interest in there, like most farmers do, there's going to be a little bit of difference there, but that would be the only difference. And when you consider the issue of fairness here, why, I think what we're doing is appropriate.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Well, Senator, I don't see how I can go back fine, you would have lost the money anyway. To me, if you're going to lose money, let's do it over a period of time or let's lose it when we have to lose it. Let's don't lose the farm today. Now, if you had a choice of losing your farm in two years, would you rather lose it in two years or a year or lose it today? You'd rather wait the year or two years because something could happen, you could pull out of it. So I don't think this is fair. Somebody's been saying it's fair and it's equal. When you take all of these schools are going to lose thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars now, right now, instead of in two years, or a year, or whatever. You see, things, times change, bills change, this means one year somebody's saying, two years somebody else is saying. This could all change. The body can change this. And I don't blame the citizens for looking at us sometimes with crossed eyes the way we change things. Senator Schrock, I'm on your nickel. Go ahead.
SENATOR SCHROCK: Well, I'll just close out my time here. The Lexington Public School System, which I want to deal upon again, has had almost a 20 percent increase in population. They've been unable to pass a bond issue.
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR SCHROCK: They have hired four new teachers, faculty, to teach English as a second language. That's all those four instructors do is teach English as a second language, and I know the word's been overused "fair" here, but in the long run Lexington will receive no additional money. It's Just a question of will they receive the money two years from now or one year from now. And I say it's not fair to withhold that type of money from them when they've had an enrollment increase that they've had, and they're not the only school with rapid growth, but they're probably the most dramatic school on this list. And it was not the intention of this amendment to hurt tiny other school district because I think you'll see on this that it's all ... this 1059 formula is based on enrollment, valuation per student, so it just accelerates by one year when they receive this money. So I would ask the body to look at this from an objective point of view and let's disburse this money when it's needed, not two years after it's needed.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Schrock. Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I understand from hearing Senator Haberman speak about the numbers here, my attempts at educating the body on what these mean have not been universally successful, but let me try just one 'other thing you need to understand about these numbers. Again, we take a snapshot of how things would look in one particular place in time and then we try to extend that out into perpetuity. I think one of the things Senator Schrock indicated was... that we need to listen to is Lexington has had a massive increase in its enrollment because of one specific event. The placement of an IBP plant in Lexington brought in lots of new students and continues to, but that growth is going to slow down, I would assume. I don't think Lexington is a community that is going to be increasing by 5 or 10 percent a year for the next two decades, so the impact on Lexington in this particular sheet is ... is different today than it was when these numbers were done and it will be different in the future. Nebraska City, you know, thanks to all of the good work we did yesterday helping out Senator Wehrbein with his measure, hopefully, we're going to have an alcohol plant down there. If we do, there's going to be a lot of growth in Nebraska City. I don't even know where Nebraska City is on this list. here. Yeah, right, and if Blair gets a new state senator there may be people willing to go into the - Blair area also and there may be growth. I think... I assume that was the point you were going to make, Senator Robinson, when you mentioned Blair. So where the growth occurs in the future is not necessarily where it is on this sheet. You may be representing an area today where there isn't much growth, but you may have a community that, because of a particular development in your area, will have a lot of people move in and your school will have a need to educate kids. True, there are some school districts, and I represent one of them, Papillion/LaVista, another one is Millard, another one is Lincoln, that have an historic pattern of growth and they'll probably stay on the list here that they will...that they will tend to benefit from this rapid growth amendment on into the future, but there are other school districts that currently are not growth districts that may become growth districts. That's another thing to consider when you're looking at this amendment. So, again, I'd urge you to support the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Before I go to the next speaker, I would like to introduce some guests today. They
are guests of Senator Morrissey. We have 15 students from Sterling High School and their teacher. Would you folks please stand and be welcomed by the Legislature. Thanks for being with us. Next speaker is Senator Robinson.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. Speaker, members of the body, what an opportune time to speak after the Chairman of the Education Committee. Timmy had me in the barrel yesterday, now Ron's ... but I guess tie's telling me I'm not good economic development stock, but I did laugh. I thought it was sort of funny. Senator Withem, I have a couple questions. Want to pose the same question. I realize all the things that can happen to the state aid formula, but going back to the question that Senator Haberman asked, if I have a school district that's going to lose $100,000, they will not have $100,000 that they normally would have had. Am I correct? I mean...
SENATOR WITHEM: Yeah, in general terms, if they lose $100,000, they will lose $100,000.
SENATOR ROBINSON Two years, in two years they would lose it, right? I mean normally, I mean they would ... without this amendment, they would lose that money in two years, right?
SENATOR WITHEM: They would lose some money.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Yeah, I meant...
SENATOR WITHEM: I don't know if it'd be the exact same, same amount of money.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Well, whatever the money was, (inaudible).
SENATOR WITHEM: If they have static population and another school district grows, two years down the road they will have received less money than that school district that grew.
SENATOR ROBINSON: But these figures here, say they're correct. Say they're correct. I mean, let's Just say they're correct. My school would lose...they would... I have one that would lose around $100,000. They would not have that money. Normally, they'd have it for one more year, right? Under this amendment, they have to pay it this year.
SENATOR WITHEM: I mean, in a general sense you're right, but
when you're trying to nail it down to $100,000 and they would lose that in two successive years and, yeah, I know it's not that simple. The formula's not that simple.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Yeah, but normally ... normally they would lose it. I mean, it's paid two years later, right, after the fact? Am I correct on this?
SENATOR WITHEM: That factor goes into the formula that figures the state aid and the number goes in on a two-year-old basis and this would make it a one-year-old basis. How that relates to all of the other factors within the formula, I can't give you a $100,000 answer because we don't know. We don't know because it has to interrelate with everything else that's happening.
SENATOR ROBINSON: So we're buying a pig in a poke then. We really don't know what's going to happen? I mean...
SENATOR WITHEM: When we passed 1059, we did not know what would happen in every individual school district in the state. You're right.
SENATOR ROBINSON: So we really don't know what's going to happen. We know we're going to help Lexington, but we don't know what's going to happen to the other schools?
SENATOR WITHEM: That's right, yeah, because we don't know. Do you know how much growth there's going to be in Blair?
SENATOR ROBINSON: Yeah, but this is set for one year, isn't it? Is that going to change?
SENATOR WITHEM: These are not the numbers that will be used.
SENATOR ROBINSON: I know, but I'm saying if they were the numbers. I mean, say these were the numbers for this year. Let's say that... and this ...
SENATOR WITHEM: Senator Robinson, I don't know what it is you want me to say other than to give you answers to the questions as I understand them. If you want me to say something, write it out and maybe I can read it to you. But I can't give you an answer to a question that is something that's not accurate.
SENATOR ROBINSON: When will the number ... when will the
number ... when will we have the exact numbers on the difference as far as these are concerned, on this issue?
SENATOR WITHEM: You will, if this goes into effect, we will have the growth numbers for the '91-92 school year. They will be reported at, I think it's the end of this school year. They will then be used to calculate the state aid that goes out in '92-93.
SENATOR ROBINSON: And when's the first payment on that? November?
SENATOR WITHEM: In '92-93. 1 don't know when the checks go out.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Okay.
SENATOR WITHEM: You'll know this summer, I guess. You'll know this summer when they start because the State Department of Education has to...
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR WITHEM: ..certify to local school boards what their state aid number will be for local budget purposes.
SENATOR ROBINSON: But I still think Senator Haberman is correct when he says that, in the example that I gave, my one district would lose $100,000 for one year if these figures were correct at the end of the school year. I mean, I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but I'm just... I mean, that's the way I look at it.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yeah. I mean, the simple answer is, yeah, they will lose money. There will be school districts in the state, because of this amendment, because we have a set amount of money and some districts are getting more of that set amount of money, there will be some districts that get less amount of money.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Well, basically what you're saying are the growth districts get it and it comes from the other districts, basically, is what (inaudible).
SENATOR WITHEM: Yeah, as long as everything stays stable, but it's not the only factor in the formula.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Yeah, I'm not making a value judgment, I'm just.... But I think what... there's some truth to...
SPEAKER BAACK: Time.
SENATOR ROBINSON: ...what Senator Haberman says and I ... if not, we're buying a pig in the poke.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Robinson. Senator Hillman. I do not see Senator Hillman. Senator Schmit. Don't see Senator Schmit. Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members of the body. I think, I ... in my mind at least, this is the last time I'll speak on this. I want to bring it back to at least to my original dividing the Lamb amendment. What we had before us was an amendment that had three major parts. One was the hold harmless, which we agreed to. The second we agreed to and then there was this section. What I wanted to do is say, wait a minute now, we've got some areas that we should at least talk about and make sure this is truly what we want to do. We should divide that question so that we can have a good discussion and so we can clearly see what's going to happen, rather than doing the one vote doing everything. And I think that was a fair and legitimate thing to do for the Legislature. That's why the question was divided. Actually, I had not decided yet how I was going to vote on the particular measure. I had some concerns and, quite honestly, in listening to the debate this morning, I very well may favor the advancement of this particular proposal. It does, Senator Schrock, make some points, that it does make sense that if you have the students now that you should be able to try to put that into your needs immediately rather than waiting for two years. But the one thing that I wanted to make sure that the body understood policywise is that if it takes place in '92-93, there will be school districts that this shift will occur, and it is a shift. It will simply go from some school districts to another that will have to budget for that now because we're talking about '92-93. It's not something they're going to be able to wait another year and do so. They're going to have to work through, that now. They're not going to have to go to a vote of the people if they lose 19 percent or so of their state aid because their, basically, needs are staying the same, the lid proportion is staying the same, but they are going to have to find either additional funding
sources or increase the levy or if their value increases not increase the levy but certainly not decrease it, whatever the options are. I have no particular problem with that, but I wanted the body to make sure they understood. I do want to... I do want to argue a little bit on what Senator Withem is saying because it is not, in my judgment, an accurate picture and sometimes good friends just simply have to disagree. It's one thing to argue that the ?ures are not real, and I agree with that. It's like a snapshot n time of a continually moving sea and wave and you take a snapshot and you say this is what it's like, but you look again and it has changed. No question about it, on any given day, or any given month, or any given year all of these numbers change. So the actual numbers are not real. However, if you talk ... if you take the Withem analogy and say we can't make any decisions because none of these numbers are real, then we never, ever have any picture to go by at all, and this is a legitimate picture of a particular point in time, period. And we need to look at that, but for members of the body to say this is what will happen to this school district if this happens, that is not fair. What is a fair assessment is to say there are school districts and we can kind of choose and look and see which ones will benefit because we know which ones will grow, but there are school districts that are going to lose on their money side, '9293, that will not have a lot of time to plan, and we need to be aware of that. We need to be aware of that when we make the policy decision. North Platte would be ail excellent example for my point and what Senator Withem is saying. North Platte is a winner in this scenario, but it is a brief winner because North Platte is not a growing, necessarily, community at this point childrenwise. There will be a point in time where they will not necessarily, if the trends continue, they will not necessarily be always exceeding the number of students. So on one picture snapshot...
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: ...they may be a ... they may gain, on another snapshot in the future they may not. These shifts will occur, but they do give a picture of the shift trends. The numbers give a picture of the trends and shift. What I was trying to get across is that there is a policy decision and that is, at this point in time, is the shift that will occur unfair to those that are going to have to deal with it immediately when they ... if they have a loss, so they have to deal with it in '92-93, and is It worth that cost to the point of the school
districts that will receive the money in the future, is it better policy for them to receive it now and be able to count that in their needs now? In hearing the discussion this morning, I think I'm convinced that Senator Schrock has a valid point, that it makes sense to go ahead and let them count it now, but the discussion has been good. I think the body has a clear understanding of what we're talking about and I think that is healthy so that the vote taken is not one where people go back to their school districts and...
SPEAKER BAACK: Time.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: ...they ask what happened, why. At least we have an understanding of why and what is happening and why we voted the way we did. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Bernard-Stevens. Senator Haberman, you're next.
SENATOR HABERMAN: Madam President (sic) and members of the body, a clear understanding, Senator Bernard-Stevens, you're correct. A clear understanding is those schools are going to lose that much money basically on that sheet in 192-93, period. They're going to lose the money due to the... at the expense of Lexington. What we're doing is we're losing this money and giving it to Lexington. Lexington makes $220,000 because they are growing. Well, fine, but what about the growth factor? All these people are receiving wages. Do they have a sales tax? They spend money. They buy groceries. They buy cars. There's twelve hundred, two thousand of them. Don't the city or the schools collect more money? Sure they do. Sure they collect more money. What are they spending that money for? But anyway, I just can't understand the greed of some people. I saw a senator, I walked up to him and I said what do you think about this? He said, just a minute, I got to see how my schools come out. So he was going over the sheet to see how his schools come out. That's as he should, to see how his schools come out. My schools can't stand a 200,000 dollar loss in '92-93. How are they going to make tip the money? I'll tell you what, I would stand here on the floor and say I'll take the growth factor and I won't come to this body and ask for some money, I'll just take the growth factor. I'll take the people. I'll take the business. I'll. take the increase. That's what it's all about--building business--but no people come running to the Legislature with their hat in their hand and say, we got to have
more money. Well, what about the money they're getting under 775? That's a revenue gift from our citizens, the same as we're doing here. Fairness, the word fairness, I can't see anything fair when you penalize so many people for the few. Holdrege, for example, loses $48,000, but Lexington makes $421,000. So we're penalizing the many for the few. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That's what it boils down to. I'm going to...if you haven't gained from my remarks, I'm going to ask you to oppose the amendment. Look at the sheet. If we're going to penalize these people, if we're going to take this money away from the schools, let's give them some notice and let's do it as far down the road as we can. Let's don't drop this bomb all of a sudden, we're going to take this money from you. I don't think that's fair, I don't think it's right, and I don't think the people can live with it. So down the road one year, two years, whatever, if we have to do this, I'll change. I'll come up and support the Issue. But to immediately drop this bomb right now, I don't think it's fair. It isn't right. How are we going to make at up? Thank you, Mr. President.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Haberman. Senator Cudaback.
SENATOR CUDABACK: Mr. Speaker, I call the question, please.
SPEAKER BAACK: Do I see five hands? I do see five hands. We will now vote on ceasing debate. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. We are voting on ceasing debate. Have you all voted? Record, Mr. Clerk. Senator Cudaback.
SENATOR CUDABACK: (Microphone not activated)...please.
SPEAKER-BAACK: We have a request for a call of the house. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 21 ayes, 1 nay, Mr. President, on the motion to go under call.
SPEAKER BAACK: The house is under call. All members, please report to the chamber and record your presence. The house is under call. And we will do a roll call on ceasing debate. The Clerk kind of erased the ballot there. First mistake he's made all year, well, second maybe. Senator Hillman, would you record your presence, please. Senator Pirsch, would you record your presence, please. Senator Wehrbein, would you record your presence, please. Senator Pirsch, would you record your
presence, please. We're looking for Senator Chambers, Senator Chizek, Senator Elmer, and Senator Rod Johnson. We will proceed and Senator Lindsay has asked for a reverse order roll call on ceasing debate. He actually asked for a chronological as to date of birth, but I think we'll go in reverse order instead. Mr. Clerk, would you call the roll, please.
CLERK: (Roll. call vote taken. See page 2077 of the Legislative Journal.) 18 ayes, 14 nays to cease debate, Mr. President.
SPEAKER BAACK: Debate does not cease. I will raise the call. Senator Morrissey, you're next.
SENATOR MORRISSEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members. I'd rise in support of the Lamb amendment and if a lobbyist hadn't told me that one of my schools was gaining off of this program, I wouldn't know because I hadn't looked at the list, and the lobbyist was going to go on through the list and I said you don't need to, I'm for this because I think it's right. Now you have to understand, and I know it's been talked about a little bit how this works, but this industry, say, comes into town and creates 300 jobs so they go down on the border, down on the holding area and they invite about 600 people and their families to come to Lexington to fill these 300 jobs, have given no information on what the job is all about, just we got a good paying job for you, come on up, and they invite about 600 people tip to fill 300 jobs. Now I have to tread lightly here lest someone should accuse me of being antibusiness, but we did have a bill in Business and Labor that would inform... that would require businesses inform these people before they come up and give them all the needed information to make the decision so they just all don't flood up here and put that burden on the community, that burden on the taxpayers, but that would be a restriction of the completely free and unfettered business system that we need in this country to survive so, of course, we couldn't get the bill moved. Now when those people come, they impact not just the educational system but the whole community and, thus, the taxpayers in that whole community. They impact the ed system, the medical system, the social services system and the law enforcement system. The numbers go up quickly and then they drop slowly as the people hang on as long as they can, trying to find apartments, relying on social services to get by, unemployment and other things and they drain the entire economy of that town while the ... before the. build up and the positive results of the business show up. So I support this amendment
because it's right, not because my schools make out or lose on it, because I think it's really right. If someone experiences rapid growth like this and the number of people that they grow by far exceeds the number of jobs created, and ofttimes there's just as many people in town that didn't get a job, in the hundreds, and their families that then have to rely on the society and the taxpayers of that community to survive that the positive benefits of those jobs are a long time coming. And we could control this. We could minimize that impact if business would let us, but they won't. But I support the amendment because it's correct. Anyone that experiences this type of rapid growth should be rewarded accordingly, and not rewarded, actually just compensated, just compensated for the increased cost, again, not only on the school system but the entire tax paying system. The taxpayers need some help. The kids need to be guaranteed -that that education quality won't suffer because of rapid rise in population and they won't have to wait two years or down the road before they can respond and react to that problem. I support Senator Lamb's amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Morrissey. Senator Horgan.
SENATOR HORGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just would like a couple of questions of Senator Schrock, if he would yield. Senator Schrock, could you...
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Schrock.
SENATOR SCHROCK: Yes.
SENATOR HORGAN: I'm looking at these figures that you handed out, Senator, and I was just wondering if you could give me some sense of... if you know how these were calculated and where they come from, and you may have already done that, but I may have missed it.
SENATOR SCHROCK: These figures were presented to me by the Department of Education and Tim Kemper was the individual working on the figures, Senator Horgan.
SENATOR HORGAN: Okay. And then, as I under... is it your understanding, Senator Schrock, that if we adopt Senator Lamb's amendment, that, as accurately as we know, these are the figures that would happen in '92-93?
SENATOR SCHROCK: That's my understanding. These would be the projections.
SENATOR HORGAN: Okay. And, again, I'm probably going to show some ignorance on this, but I am concerned that I have two school districts in my district, the Millard School District and, unlike Senator Morrissey, I did look at the figures and the Millard School District will get 837,000 additional money, the Omaha Public Schools will get 303,000 less money, and I guess I would like to have some sense of what it is I'm doing here by either supporting or opposing the amendment and my question to you, Senator, is in LB 1059 there is a percentage growth factor ,and is that your understanding too?
SENATOR SCHROCK: Senator Horgan, I can't honestly answer that.
SENATOR HORGAN: Okay. Well, where's Senator Withem? Is he on the floor?
SPEAKER BAACK: Who are you looking for, Senator Horgan?
SENATOR HORGAN: Senator Withem. Is he on... I don't think he's on the floor. Well, how about Senator Bernard-Stevens? He seemed to know what was going on this. Is he around? No.
SPEAKER BAACK: Yes, he's here.
SENATOR HORGAN: Scott?
SPEAKER BAACK: But I'm not sure he knows what's going on.
SENATOR HORGAN: I'll ask Senator ... oh, here's ... well, in the hope that Senator Bernard-Stevens might know what's going on, I would like to ask him some questions if he would yield.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Yes.
SENATOR HORGAN: Senator, can you give me some explanation it in LB 1059 there is a growth factor?
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: No, Senator Withem explained that well. What is in 1059 is you'll be able to count, when you have ... when you have an excess...more students come in than two
years previous, I think if you go back and look at the numbers that as more students come in you'll be able to count that in your needs formula and it would ... you'd be able to count that two years later.
SENATOR HORGAN: And is that what we're doing in Senator Lamb's amendment?
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: That same...
SENATOR HORGAN: That's the same formula, right?
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: ...that same process, my understanding from what Senator Withem said, is still continuing. What we're doing is then, instead of having them wait two years for ... to be able to include that in the needs, to be able to count it at the moment that the need arises.
SENATOR HORGAN: And we would do that from this time forward.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Correct.
SENATOR HORGAN: It would be a yearly analysis of what the need is based upon what the (inaudible).
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Correct, but the shifts would be different, dependent upon...
SENATOR HORGAN: Depends upon the need and the growth.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Correct.
SENATOR HORGAN: Okay. Well, I think, and the reason I didn't want to call the question, I think there's some, you know, there's some explanations that are going to have to be made, especially if I go back to Omaha and one Saturday I go to Millard and they get 800,000 more and on the next Saturday I go to OPS and they get 300,000 less, I'll be a hero in Millard and I'll be a bum in OPS, and I think we need to understand that. And I am concerned about what Senator Bernard-Stevens was saying about the school districts perhaps not being prepared for this and ...
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR HORGAN: ...and I do have, you know, the Omaha Public Schools is the largest school district in the state. They experience more growth in students than any other district in the state, yet they will lose money because the size of their district proportionately is not growing as fast as other districts and so their need won't justify it. And I, obviously, think that I, you know, you have a conflict here-and, obviously, I think a lot of us are going to have conflicts because we have different school districts that have different needs and they're growing at different rates, but over all I guess Senator Schrock is probably right that these districts have that need now and it may make sense that we go ahead and do that, but I am torn a little bit in what Senator Bernard-Stevens was saying, that there are districts who are not prepared for this change and for us to be throwing this change out at this point does give me some concern, and so I ... I just think we needed to have a little bit of this dialogue to explain what was going on. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Time. Thank you, Senator Horgan. Senator Schrock.
SENATOR. SCHROCK: Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature, I'd like to look at the whole package here a minute, LB 719. We have a hold harmless clause in there and, you know, you look at these sheets, you look, well, my school district loses money, but if we don't pass hold harmless for two years, and I would like to commend Senator Withem, he is supporting hold harmless. Does it benefit his school districts? Absolutely not. But in the interest of fairness and in the interest of not confusing the issue now because we don't know whether the constitutional amendment's going to pass, if all personal property is going to go on or just the personal property that's depreciated, there's going to be a lot of confusion in these rural school districts. And if we don't pass that two-year hold harmless, Senator Haberman or Senator Robinson, you have some districts that will probably lose money big time. And so I think that's been the concession made to some of these rural districts and I think that same concession should be made to the rapid growth districts by these rural districts. Look at what hold harmless does for you. Look at what hold harmless does for you. Does that benefit you? If it does, then I think we should accept this whole package here in the interest of fairness. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Schrock. Before I proceed to the next speaker, I would like to introduce some guests of the
Legislature. First, there are guests of Senator Emil Beyer. We have 27 fourth graders from Gretna Elementary and their teacher. Would you please stand and be welcomed by the Legislature. And also we have some guests of Senator Byars. We have 40 fourth graders from Paddock Lane Elementary School in Beatrice and their teachers. Would you folks please stand and be welcomed by the Legislature. Thank you for being with us. The next speaker is Senator Moore.
SENATOR MOORE: I'll pass.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Schimek. Senator Lynch. Senator Robinson.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. President, members of the body, I have a question for Senator Schrock.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Schrock, would you respond to a question, please?
SENATOR SCHROCK: Yeah.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Schrock.
SENATOR SCHROCK: Yes.
SPEAKER BAACK: He's going to ask you a question.
SENATOR SCHROCK: Sure.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Senator Schrock, I know we've been talking about Lexington. What change on school aid would they have? Would they receive more school aid? Wouldn't they have quite an offset on...because they have more students? Wouldn't that be quite a jump for Lexington in that area? Am I ...
SENATOR SCHROCK: Senator Robinson, I would assume so. As I understand it, this issue here is 1059, but, yes, I would assume they'd receive more school aid.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Yeah. Well, if they ... why do we have to do it this year then if they're going to receive more school aid? There's an off ... isn't... let me ask you this question. Isn't there an offset on that Issue?
SENATOR SCHROCK: But I don't think the school aid compensates for the 1059 formula, which ... which...which they're going to need this money up-front. They don't need it a year from now or two years from now. They need the money up-front for their additional students, Senator Robinson.
SENATOR ROBINSON: But there is an offset, though. We'll have to admit that, right?
SENATOR SCHROCK: Yes. Yes. Yes.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Okay. You singled out Senator... let's see, who was it, I can't... Senator Haberman, I guess it was, and myself talking about hold harmless in talking about your rural districts losing, you know, if the tax issue goes down and would you like to amplify just a little on that? I'd like a little explanation of that statement.
SENATOR SCHROCK: Well, Senator Robinson, as I understand it, if we don't pass the hold harmless provision, the hold harmless provision will assure that school districts will not lose additional 1059 funds under the formula...
SENATOR ROBINSON: Yeah, I understand that.
SENATOR-SCHROCK: ...than they've previously gone down to, because some of them are at a rather low level and, with the addition of the personal property tax going on the tax rolls and some affiliation taking place, some of these school districts are going to lose some pretty big money if we don't pass hold harmless for two years, and Senator Withem recognized that there was going to be some confusion out there and so he agreed to this two-year hold harmless provision, which does not benefit urban schools at all. But in the interest of keeping things rolling along at a rather even keel, he agreed to hold harmless and I think, along with hold harmless, we ought to recognize that some rapid growth districts also have some problems as far as state aid to education tinder the 1059 formula.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Okay, let's go back...let's go back to the ... you're saying if the constitutional amendment goes down the drain then there's going to be some schools hurting. Is that what you're... isn't that the statement you made, sir?
SENATOR SCHROCK: But even if the constitutional amendment
passes, there's going to be a lot of personal property on the tax rolls on its undepreciated value that's going to increase the valuation per student in these rural districts.
SENATOR ROBINSON: But then their ... their... their levy will go down then, is that...
SENATOR SCHROCK: Their levy will go down, their valuation per student will go up, and their funds from the state will go down and go to the property poor districts. Therefore, the hold harmless provision is quite important to legislative districts like yours and I think you should (inaudible).
SENATOR ROBINSON: No, I checked all of mine. All...all of mine do fine. In fact, they're better off if there isn't a hold harmless. That's... that's...
SENATOR SCHROCK: Well, that was an assumption I made then but...
SENATOR ROBINSON: I guess the question I have, three days before we adjourn,...
SENATOR CONWAY PRESIDING
SENATOR CONWAY: One minute.
SENATOR ROBINSON: ...we're changing policy that we've had ... we've had on the books. Give you a good example and I voted for it and I shouldn't have after I take a look at it, it's the hold harmless thing. Good Senator Lamb slithered that one in and I don't think we really knew what was happening when the hold harmless was, because, believe me, there are a lot of interactions in there depending what schools you have and, oh, I don't know, I think it's too late in the game to be changing policy that we've had on the books this late in the game. I really question we've had enough time to look at it, as we view the discussion that's been going on this morning.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Robinson. Senator Beutler, you're next. Question has been called. Do I see five hands? I do. The question is, shall debate cease? Have you all voted? We are voting on ceasing debate. Have you all voted? Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 21 ayes, 11 nays to cease debate, Mr. President.
SENATOR CONWAY: Debate is not ceased. We will move on to Senator Cudaback.
SENATOR CUDABACK: Mr. Speaker and members of the body, Senator Withem has explained this very well. He knows this issue frontwards and backwards. He stated here that it won't benefit everybody. Some will lose this year and some will gain next year. This year maybe my district gains, and next year maybe it is your district, your district or your district will gain from this. Who knows? This is more fair. It doesn't prolong it three or four years. It is the immediate year, one year. I think in all fairness to the districts that grow rapidly, maybe your district will grow more rapidly next year. I think this is more fair and I urge your support for this amendment. Senator Withem has done a good job. He is trying to be fair with us all. Thank you.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Cudaback. Senator Schmit, you are next.
SENATOR SCHMIT: I would like to ask a question of Senator Schrock, if he is here, but since he is not here, perhaps Senator Withem can answer. Senator Withem, do you know if these numbers that we have been provided by Senator Schrock take into account the changes in valuation as a result of the passage of LB 1063, (interruption).
SENATOR WITHEM: Bingo, Senator Schmit, they absolutely do not. The only thing these take into consideration is this specific amendment. There are numerous other factors and you have identified one, that will certainly be impacted by this bill.
SENATOR SCHMIT: Is there any way that we can determine if there is any, I guess, damage control that can be taken as of this time in some areas where they might suffer accumulative adverse impacts, such as Lexington, which has the problem of increased growth, rapid growth, and probably will also experience additional valuation and then, as a result of that, have an even greater adverse impact than what is presently projected? Is there any way we can calculate that at all?
SENATOR WITHEM: Senator Schmit, when we debated LB 1063, there were printouts that came around dealing with the potential
impacts of added valuations school district by school district. What we can do about that, there is a multitude of policy choices that individual members may want to bring forward. I would not propose any at this time.
SENATOR SCHMIT: Well, thank you, Senator Withem. I will, probably support the amendment because of the many reasons given here on the floor, but I want to just make it clear that, as Senator Withem has pointed out, there will be a continuing source of revelations as the scenario unfolds, and any school district which thinks that they are going to be free and clear, I guess, will find later on that maybe they are not. I do not know the extent of the hold harmless, whether the hold harmless addresses the revenue that might be lost from LB 1063 or not. I think the entire issue is, of course, going to be debated for many, many years. Next year we will be back here again, the City of Lincoln, the Lincoln School Districts, did not benefit as they had expected from the passage of 1059, and whether or not they can live with this remains to be seen, I guess. My concern is that with a limited or finite amount of money there will always be the scramble, and if we have just a limited amount of money, and some gain and some are going to lose, I guess we have to recognize that until we fully fund 1059, then we have not fulfilled our commitment to the school districts. We have really made a hollow promise and, as I understand, we are still less than 50 percent of the way to the goal of funding of 1059. If someone wants to comment about that, I think it would be very informative. It in easy on this floor to enact legislation which we all agree has the best of intentions, but when it comes to making the money available, then, of course, we run into a considerable number of roadblocks. Senator Lynch has touched upon -:hat. Senator Withem, of course, is familiar with it. Senator Moore and the Appropriations Committee are very...
SENATOR CONWAY: One minute.
SENATOR SCHMIT: ... familiar with it, but unless we recognize at. of now that this proposal here is not the last word, that it will continue to be a problem for us, and that individual school districts will always have to struggle, and there will be continued pressures from unknown elements at the present time and in the future that will have an adverse impact, and I think Senator Spencer Morrissey touched upon many other aspects of it. You are going to see increased cost of other governmental agencies because of the growth of the schools, and we have made
no effort and will make no effort, of course, to compensate those cities for those kind of developments. It is kind of an ironic twist of fate that while Lexington, in many instances, can benefit from the influx of people with the new jobs, that the problems that are associated with it...
SENATOR CONWAY: Time.
SENATOR SCHMIT: ... are very real and of deep concern to everyone.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Schmit. Before we move on to the next speaker, I would like to introduce a guest of Senator Wesely, his daughter, Amanda, and his mother, Irene Wesely, are under the south balcony. Would they please stand and be recognized. Thank you for coming today. Next speaker is Senator Hefner.
SENATOR HEFNER: Mr. President and members of the body, I have a problem supporting this amendment, and I realize I do have several school districts that get more money, but I also have a number that lose money. I don't think... I don't think we want to change the formula now. This bill went into effect a couple of years ago. Let's leave the formula as it is, and then if it needs changing later on, go ahead and do it. One year isn't going to make that much difference. Like Senator Schrock said, well, they have got a problem in Lexington, and they probably do have, probably do have with the expansion that is going on in Lexington. But I submit to you that the $400,000 that they are going to get one year sooner isn't going to help them that much. They are going to have to go back to the people again with that bond issue, as I see it. So I don't think we are -going to help Lexington that much. It is true that schools that have an increase in enrollment will receive more state aid, like it has been said on the floor here before, but, as I understand it, this portion of it would just be a one-time payment for an increase in their enrollment. So let's leave LB 1059 alone for another year, or maybe another couple of years, and see how it shakes out. So I would just, at this time, urge you to vote against this amendment. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK PRESIDING
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Hefner. Senator Morrissey, you are next. The question has been called. Do I see five
hands? I do see five hands. We will vote on ceasing debate. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 27 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on the motion to cease debate.
SPEAKER BAACK: Debate has ceased. I will go to Senator Lamb to close.
SENATOR LAMB: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members. I just want to reiterate that this amendment is here because I think it is fair. I think it is fair because the school needs the money when the students are there. It just gives them that money one year earlier, and I would relinquish the rest of my time to Senator Warner.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Warner.
SENATOR LAMB: He may be on the other side of the question, I don't know.
SENATOR WARNER: Thank you, Senator Lamb. And I'd like ... no, I am in support of the amendment, but I want to go back because everybody... it has been said by several, but everybody is looking at the sheets that were handed out, whether you gain or lose. LB 1059 was based on need. That was the policy, and the need, in order to calculate it, because the numbers aren't available, was the previous two years and, essentially, it turns on evaluation, cost per student depending on the tier you are in and the number of students that are in that system. Here we are recognizing the policy of need that when a school has an unusual growth in numbers, instead of waiting two years for that number to work through the system, and be given those additional funds because of additional costs, they get it the year that it occurs, and that simply makes sense as a policy. It is not when it is going to happen, or it is when, not if, that it is going to happen. Senator Withem pointed out the handout was the picture now. None of us know, no school district in the state knows what's... if you make no change in this amendment today, they will not know the dollars they are going to have for next year until July, when all of these factors have gone in. I can tell you last year, for example, we added 20 million to the state aid or thereabouts. You would assume every school district gained in the state. One of my schools lost. Their
state aid went down 33 percent, not because we added more money, but the valuations went up. They went up significantly. As a result, the need factor reduced the amount. The concept here is one of recognizing what was the absolute basic concept in 1059, and I supported it, not for the benefit of most of my schools, but for the benefit of the state, because...the students of the state, because it was a need-based and we are merely recognizing the simple fact that the need, when you have significant increase in students, in fact, is then, at that time when it occurs, and I would urge the body to support this amendment because it is totally consistent, totally consistent with the whole concept of 1059 when it was enacted, and I would hope that you would recognize that as a policy that is consistent with what was done, and it is the right thing to do. And it is no problem for you to explain to districts who understand the concept of 1059 why this should occur.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Warner. You have heard the closing on the amendment by Senator Lamb. We will now vote on that amendment. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Have you all voted? A record vote has been requested. Have you all voted? Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: (Read record vote. See page 2078 of the Legislative Journal.) 28 ayes, 13 nays, Mr. President.
SPEAKER BAACK: The final portion of the Lamb amendment has been adopted. Next item, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: Mr. President, Senator Wickersham had the next amendment. I have a note he wishes to withdraw.
SPEAKER BAACK: It is withdrawn.
CLERK: Mr. President, the next amendment to the bill is by Senator Conway, AM3932, Senator. (See pages 2079-80 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Conway.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members. The amendment that I offer, I sent out a sheet last week when it might possibly have came up, and it didn't. There was a couple of sheets. I had the one cover letter under my signature passed out again this morning as somewhat of a reminder. What AM3811
does, basically, is it addresses some of the concerns that I have had relative to the Educational Excellence Fund for quite sometime. I was reminded last week, one evening I was invited over to the UNL campus to speak to a seminar class in educational administration, and part of what that class had been studying was some of the concepts and theories and proposals and motivations behind LB 89 and LB 91. And it was my responsibility to respond to some of their questions, and they had been studying it in depth relative to what policy decisions and what policy statements were being made relative to LB 89 and LB 91, and it was a good reminder for me to think about and go back and review some of the questions and some of the concepts that originally were proposed under LB 89. And that is why I offer this amendment to you, is that I think we have in being caught up in some of the debate relative to where the funding sources may be and the like, we have somewhat forgotten what it was we were really trying to do when we passed LB 89 and LB 91 to begin with. So this somewhat brings back that concept for us to think about and see what we are doing. LB 89, when it was offered back in 1989, was primarily sold with the idea that it was designed to attract the brightest and the best into the profession, and also to enhance the academic status of those people already in the profession, to try to continue their education. We were offered many statistics talking about where we ranked nationally with respect to entry-level salaries. There was a lot of statistics offered relative to the fact that many of our teachers had not been continuing their education and pursuing it beyond, and we are falling behind nationally in those statistics as well, and so that was really a lot of the motivation we had for providing the bonus bucks, if you will, to attempt to address that concern. A lot of it was even discussed that this really wasn't only to... certainly wasn't even to enhance -the teachers that currently were in the system. Many of those, particularly a lot of the older teachers, obviously, were going to stay, and many of them were in a salary situation where it was not detrimental to stay in the profession. It was that entry, trying to -get young people enticed to move into the profession and showing the general populace that we had respect for that profession and wanted to see them remunerated in a proper way. One of the problems we run into, and we run into this in all kinds of legislation, is the statistics when we are dealing with averages. In this body, I have seen averages offered to us over, and over, and over again, and as a person who spent 18 years teaching statistics, I always use to remind the students when we would get to measures of central tendency,
or as we call them here averages, that that is only part of the question. The other question is the measure of dispersion, and to bring that point home, I always point out that an average is such that if you put one foot on a block of ice and one on a hot plate, on the average you should be relatively comfortable. The dispersion is what we have to look at in many cases to see what things amount to. So when we look at averages, and we look at the average school district, and what the average salaries are, we also have to recognize that some school districts have a salary schedule such that people that have been around for awhile, or who have advanced degrees are remunerated fairly well, but if we have very low entry levels, that average comes down and doesn't look particularly enticing to the general public, and so the idea that I offer to you today is, if you remember right, when we calculated what a school district was eligible for, however much money, and this isn't a question of how much money is in the pool, it is how the money is distributed, and if we took a school district, and using an example, if we took a school district that had an average teacher salary of $28,000, but that teacher salary range went from 20,000 to 36,000, that would give them, in essence, a $28,000 average. Now if it goes to the local school district, and we provide a bonus, and let's say that bonus is such that that school qualifies for 700 dollars worth of bonus for each teacher. That is the average that goes out and we assume, in many cases, that is the average that gets distributed. But many schools, as I have been informed, when that went to the bargaining unit at the local level, they distributed it as per a proportionality associated with their current salary schedule. And when you do that, if you had a situation, like I say, where you had the ability to pay $700 to each teacher, but then distributed based on your salary schedule, the highest paid teacher, the $36,000 a year teacher, would get $900, and the $20,000 teacher would get 500. 1 don't think that that type of distribution pattern really addresses what we thought we were doing or what we were attempting to do, and that being bringing up those entry level salaries, trying to get that lower paid teacher more enticed, or people who aren't even in the profession being enticed into the profession because they know they are going to start off at a higher rate. And so what I offer to you is something relatively simple. Rather than having... and many school districts do what I am offering, and I think many of you are well aware of those that do that, but simply to mandate rather than having it turned over to the local negotiating committee, to mandate that the amount of money,
whatever they qualify for, is divided simply by the number of qualifying teachers, and every teacher in that system would get the same amount. So, in my example, if there was enough for $700 for each teacher, each teacher would get 700. Now, one, that would certainly help some of the dissension that I think happens in the ranks relative to the distribution of that money, that that's not in question, and, two, the lower paid teacher would get the same amount of money, but at least could lay claim to a better percentage- increase over their entry level or their low level salaries than what the higher paid teacher would. And so I simply offer this amendment to you that suggests that whatever amount of money is in the pool, whatever you qualify for your school system, you simply divide it by the number of teachers who are qualifiers, and everyone gets the same amount. So it is quite simple, arid I think it will better allow us to be able to go out and say, it is working, we are moving the money in a way that we are trying to bring up those lowest paid teachers in a way that they would get the highest percentage. Thank you very much.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Conway. Discussion on the amendment offered by Senator Conway. Senator Robinson.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. President and members of the body, I stand in support of Senator Conway's amendment, and I think now is the time to do what he has in his amendment by giving each teacher the same amount of money, not based on whether you are ... like in several of my districts, whether you are a coach, you get more for coaching and so forth. We are talking about an equalization among classroom teachers, and I think this is a move in the right direction. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Robinson. Senator Schellpeper.
SENATOR SCHELLPEPER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members. also rise to support this amendment. Back in 1989 when we were talking about all of the teachers' salaries and different things, LB 89, and at that time we talked about how we were going to help the low income teachers in Nebraska. And, actually, the way that the funding came out, you really didn't help the low income teachers. LB 89 was sold to the people of this state an a way to help low income, the teachers that had a low income, and I think this amendment is a very fair amendment. It in an amendment that should have been here a long time ago
when we first starting giving this bonus to our teachers, and I sure support Senator Conway. I think it is an amendment that needs to pass that is a very fair amendment because it does help those low income that need it much more than the higher income teachers. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Schellpeper. Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes, Mr. Speaker and members of the body, I rise in strong, vehement opposition to this amendment. This amendment undoes one of the very positive things that we, as a body, did with the teacher pay bill last year. If you recall, we had some of... frankly, some of the very same frustrations that lead Senator Conway to offer this amendment, a number of us also had. Our concern was that when the money went out to teachers, when the local bargaining units were empowered to bargain with the school boards the distribution, that in many cases what the local school boards did was abdicate their responsibilities, told the local teachers' association, do with it as you please, it is your money, and in many ways, the plans came in, not oriented toward what is needed to improve education, to attract new teachers, to retain career teachers, or whatever. It was just based on an economic principle of who controls the bargaining unit and who gets the money. I share Senator Conway's concerns with that. One of the things we did, as a body, last year though was we said any money above $15 million to $20 million will be distributed on a performance-based nature, that those teachers who do more based upon whatever more means at the local level, serving on curriculum committees, working the summers, merit, if they want to do merit, a multitude of other things Will get more money. Had an interesting experience on Sunday evening. I was visiting with a teacher, an elementary school teacher who was flying back from Chicago to Lincoln, about a number of education issues. This teacher I think, unfortunately, is probably in a position of transitioning out of the classroom into other things. One of her frustrations with teaching is this is a person that serves on curriculum committees, this is a person that works hard on lesson plans, this is a teacher that mentors other teachers, this is a teacher that gets paid exactly the same amount of money as the teacher that comes into the school in the morning, puts in eight hours, and goes home. That is one of the crying problems in education today. We addressed that last year with an amendment to LB 91 that says we will have a performance-based program in place in Nebraska. Senator Conway's amendment
strikes that, strikes it before we get a chance to use it. I share his frustrations. I certainly oppose the move he is taking here, and I will be doing all I can to see to it that this particular provision does not get enacted. This is something that has had little or no publicity, hasn't been printed in the Journal. I don't know how long it has been up -there. It has not been discussed, to my knowledge, with the Education Association; was not introduced as a bill to be brought before the Education Committee. Another thing that I think it does as I read it, Senator Lamb, you can nod yes or no, you have had a chance to check it, I think it strikes all of the other amendments to this bill, does it not do that? Okay, it is meant to strike the water stuff, and whether or not it will end tip striking the other Lamb amendments I do not know, but I would strongly, strongly, strongly oppose this measure.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Nelson:
SENATOR NELSON: Mr. Speaker, I support this measure as strongly, and strongly as Senator Withem opposes it. It has been one of the things that has been wrong with the Help Education Act. It was sold on the basis, I think Senator Crosby mentioned the other day that... and there are some teachers in the state that are receiving $14,000. 1 don't know, some 43 or something, out of 23,000, 1 believe, that are below $15,000, so there are a very, very minute number. Our whole basis, and we can't really pass a law to direct it to those very few because that is not the medium. Let's talk about the others that are coming into the system, are drawn into education, could be good educators, 17, 18 thousand dollars, and there is plenty of those in the state, probably too many, but I have a real problem, and, again, it is the same thing, we cannot continually pass laws, I guess, is what the saying is, to disregard the needy or the ones that really have a need, are struggling to stay in education and become good teachers, and we pass it out, I don't necessarily want to call them wealthy, but we have couples that are teaching that are in the $80,000 bracket and above, two of their incomes. So, again, they get the lion's share, and I am not sure that they are working any harder than that young teacher down there struggling that may or may not, or that young woman, or that woman that doesn't have lesson planning time maybe in the primary grades or so on. I know that it would be opposed by the ones that are making the decisions, but Senator Conway's amendment is absolutely fair, and the idea was to raise all of the teachers' salaries, make it more enticing to draw those into
education. And I know that in my area, there was a lot of dissatisfaction the way it was handled, and it simply was handled, again the story, the ones that are really, truly needy were the ones that did not receive it, and the ones that should have been able to manage their budget are, again, the ones that received the lion's share. And I strongly support Senator Conway and I think many of us would be much more comfortable in supporting the Help Education Act if we knew it was being distributed on what I call a more equitable basis.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Nelson. Before I go to the next speaker, I would like to introduce some guests of the Legislature. First we have guests of Senator Horgan. There are 72 tenth graders from Burke High in Omaha, and their instructor. Would you folks please stand and be welcomed by the Legislature. And also we have some guests of Senator Carson Rogers. We have 17 twelfth graders from Litchfield School with their teacher. Would you folks please stand and be welcomed by the Legislature. Thank you for being with us. The next speaker, Senator Lamb.
SENATOR LAMB: Question.
SPEAKER BAACK: The question has been called. Do I see five hands? I do not see five hands. We will continue with debate. Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members of the body. I, too, rise in opposition to the amendment, and I will speak briefly and see how it goes. I guess my one concern is that this is the type of amendment offered at this point that could bring 719, 1 think, totally down, and I want to make that clear, this is a very, very serious amendment, and those that will be opposing this particular amendment, if it would be adopted, would not be able to let the bill continue to go. And say that, not as a threat, I think that is just a reality of how serious this type of amendment is. So with that beginning of my comments, one of the frustrations I've always had, and I know these can be construed in many, many ways, and I understand that, and I will defend it, if those people who want to take it and twist it in a different manner. one of my frustrations has always been that in the teaching profession, no matter how hard you worked, no matter what you're able to do, that when we are looking at negotiations or you are looking at salary, everybody moved up the same. And when it went into negotiations, what was changed was the schedule. Maybe you would get more money per
year that you served, or maybe they would increase the columns, you know, the levels you were at, but you were never able to get anything more, as in business, if you produced in business, if you worked hard in business, you became one of the best in the profession, you also got the rewards for that, but not in education. That has not happened, and it does not happen at this point. That has always been a frustration, and it has been a frustration in this body, and in the teaching profession, per se. When LB 89 and LB 91 came before the body, those concepts and those ideas were thrown around, on both sides actually trying to make points, but what we ended up saying is, the bottom line is, that we do not ... we do not pay the adequate salaries that attracts the kind of teacher that we need. And we agreed twice in 89 and LB 91, that we, as a body,. want to go ahead and increase that so that we can keep the best teachers in teaching and attract the best. Senator Conway was correct when he said that in 91....after 89 passed, the monies that were distributed were not distributed in a way that he felt comfortable with. In fact, Senator Withem and I both, as well as others that supported 89, and LB 91, but particularly after the 89 monies were spent, we were very concerned on how that was done. In most cases, it was done straight salary schedule, which meant that much of the money went to the top brackets and very little went to the base to attract the kind of teacher that we wanted. And that was one of the principles of LB 89, to attract a better teacher, or to rephrase that, that the better students would want to get into the education field. What we did in LB 91 was set up a performance-based criteria to begin that momentous change into the process, begin that change where those teachers that are doing the extra, going the extra mile, doing the better things will be able to receive the benefits of that labor, financially be able to do so. And the Legislature agreed with that, which is why we have the $15 million threshold. That is a major policy change in education, that we are actually, when we hit that $15 million threshold, any dollars above that, that'll be percentagewise, there will be a chunk of money that will be going into a performance base, which could be merit. It could be anything else, but would have to be negotiated.
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: It has to be submitted and the plan has to be approved. It begins school districts in thinking in terms of rewarding the best, and that is positive. This
amendment undermines that, takes us back where we were in the Dark Ages, as far as I am concerned, and I get really... I guess I want to say, even though Senator Conway is a dear friend of mine, if we are not willing to support increasing money for faculty, then don't get involved with the distribution at that point, to me, that is a low blow. To me, that is an unfair blow, and at this particularly point, I also want to say how vehemently opposed I am to the amendment, and it will take away all of the progress we've done on the performance based and get it to a point that I may not even be able to support any of the concepts of LB 91. We cannot go back to those Dark Ages. We cannot go back to where it was before.
SPEAKER BAACK: Time.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: We must continue to proceed in the direction that we have decided to in LB 91 on the performance-based criteria.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Bernard-Stevens. Senator Hillman.
SENATOR HILLMAN: Mr. Speaker, members, the teacher pay bill in something that I haven't addressed on this floor since I have been here. I have not supported it. I have not openly opposed it. I had not supported it before I came to the Legislature in meeting with groups. And I go clear back to the basic concept as to how you should be looking at teacher pay, how it should be administrated, how it should be decided, and I have never supported the concept that there should be a special appropriation for it. I do know, and I meet regularly with my teachers on the issue, and they do know how I feel about it, but one of their strong arguments was, and especially in western Nebraska, is entry level. And when you look at excellence in education and in teachers, it is entry level and attracting those people who are good, and who do need a good entry salary, and we don't have that, and I agree we don't have that. We compete very strongly. Just 30 miles away is Wyoming that offers a beginning teacher pay much greater than ours. And, Senator Conway, I probably will not be supporting your amendment. I am not sure what you amendment does. I don't know what you strike. I can't find it anyplace, and if you would be willing to explain some of that, that might help. But I felt it was time, probably, that I did need to say just a few things about it, as I will riot support a teacher pay bill when it comes
up later on again. And I do support increase in teachers' salaries, and sometime what I would like to see this body do is we can have a permanent funding base, how it will be included in school budgets, how we will look at the bargaining process, and how we are impacting it. With that, I will not support your amendment, Senator Conway, but I do appreciate your bringing it and for giving me the opportunity to speak to it.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Hillman. Senator Morrissey.
SENATOR MORRISSEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members. I rise I guess lying squarely on the fence on this particular bill. I support loading the teachers' pay on the bottom end. I support the long-term impact that that has. But I also would like to see the performance-based system have a chance to work, and I have told my teachers in meetings that I had heard that they were squabbling, if you will, unsubstantiated I heard that, and that the people at the top were getting all the money. And I have been told that that wasn't the case, that there were natural disagreements that happen in any... as happen in any negotiations, but everyone seemed to be pretty well satisfied with the end results. I do, and I told them that I hoped they would keep in mind that the teacher pay bill is truly a long-term program, and the long-term aspect of it is loading up the bottom end, in my opinion, and raising the base to do the things we said the bill is to do, reward those that have achieved, and attract the best and the brightest to the profession. And that is the long-term goal and that is what I think is the most important. So I guess right now I will probably oppose Senator Conway's amendment. I like the idea of the money coming in at the bottom. I like the long-term aspect of that, but I think, just as in any other body, these people that negotiate for the teachers' group at the local school, are appointed or elected by a body of the teachers, as a whole, and that if they are not satisfied with their negotiations team on the local level that they can change that, and they will change that, and that is how it is supposed to work. I will not vote for this, although I am really interested in what it is trying to do. I will let the performance-based system have a chance to work, let the politics and the interaction between teachers on the local level work as they should and will, and, hopefully, we will get a fair and just system on the distribution of the money. I'd oppose Senator Conway's amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Morrissey. Senator Bohlke.
SENATOR BOHLKE: Mr. Speaker, members, as I have listened to the debate go on here, I've heard some senators rise and talk about the fact that the money that was sent out should be used to address low income. I have heard Senator Morrissey and some others speak to the need of beginning salaries. I have heard others speak to the need of performance-based incentives. All of that speaks to what I think or draws my attention to what I think is a very most important point and why I strongly oppose this amendment. I believe that the needs in each district are different and distinct. Because of that, local school boards and the negotiating teams are given the authority to decide how that money should be distributed. Of course, some of us maybe were upset who wanted to see beginning salaries raised and they saw that that didn't happen, but when we do this, we are invading the authority of local school boards, and also taking away a responsibility that is theirs, and also taking away an article that should remain in local negotiations, and not on the floor of the Legislature. For this reason, I opposed this amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Bohlke. Senator Robinson, you are next.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. Speaker, members of the body, Senator Bohlke, on your last comment, the only problem when you give it to the negotiation team or that group of people and the school, it is the people that are all...that have been there for years, and I think this is what Senator Conway is getting at, that the people on the low pegs of the salary schedule, they really don't have any voice in that. I have received several letters from first, second, and third year teachers, and they complain about coaches adding all their salary on, consequently, they get less money, and I don't think that is the right way to do it. Going back to Senator Withem, Senator Bernard-Stevens, I agree with them. Everything over $15 million ought to be based on performance. I am not too sure about serving on a committee. I don't know that that increases your performance in the classroom, but that can come later, and we talked about that last year, I have no problem with it. But the first 15 million, our biggest problem is getting those salaries on the beginning part of the salary schedule up. Is Senator Hillman here? z: 1 wanted to answer her question. I guess she isn't here. She couldn't figure out what Senator Conway's amendment is. Very
simple, if you have got ten teachers, if there is $1,000 available, each one of them get $100. It is divided that way. That is what it is, and I think that is the way it should be until we get a better balance across the board on teachers' salaries. The old cliche, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer when you put it to the negotiation, give it to that negotiating team and the school, because it is the teachers with a lot of tenure that decide. Senator Hillman, you left, you said you had a problem with understanding Senator Conway's amendment. It is very simple. If there is a school with ten teachers and they would receive $1,000, you would divide the ten into the $1,000, they'd receive $100 apiece. It would not be predicated on whether you have a master's degree, whether he is a football coach, or the wrestling coach, or the volleyball coach. It is predicated on being a classroom teacher, and, hopefully, that clears your understanding of Senator Conway's amendment up. We are looking into, and, hopefully, it will be drafted later, an amendment that would say that any amount over $15 million would go to the merit concept that Senator Bernard-Stevens and Senator Withem have been talking about, which I agree wholeheartedly, I think it should be. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Robinson. Senator Conway.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and members. Last year, I concurred with Senator Bernard-Stevens and Senator Withem's idea relative to the performance base and I believe that should be there. The problem we had last year was that was after the first 15 million. Where did we come up with the magical 15 million? Because that was all that was on the table last year, and so it was something we never realized anyway. What I am going to do, I know we are going to recess for lunch shortly. Over the noon hour, I already have an amendment to the amendment filed that I think will solve everyone's problem, and that being I will address this distribution formula to the first 15 million that is now being distributed in a different fashion. And then after the $15 million, we will leave the performance base in for anything after 15 million. I have an amendment that I think does that but, by having that hour off for lunch, I will make sure the language does do it exactly the way we want. And so I think at that point, everyone should be satisfied there will be a performance-base formula like we had after the first 15, or after the first 15 million as is in the current statutes, leave that alone, I don't think anybody will have any problem with it, other than the fact that since it never has been
realized, we are hanging on to a dream that may or may not ever be realized, but look at that first $15 million and follow my format, and I will offer that as an amendment to my amendment after we get back from lunch.
SPEAKER BAACK: Do you have items for the record, Mr. Clerk?
CLERK: Mr. President, I do. Explanation of votes from Senators Hefner and Kristensen. Bills read on Final have been presented to the Governor this morning. (Re: LB 1138, LB 1138A. See page 2080 of the Legislative Journal.)
New resolutions, LR 432-435, all will be laid over and considered at another time. Senator Cudaback has amendments to LB 1092 to be printed; Senator Schellpeper to LB 1001; Senator Rasmussen to LB 1184. That is all that I have, Mr. President. (See pages 2081-91 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Hall, would you like to recess us until one-thirty.
SENATOR HALL: Mr. President, I move the body recess until one-thirty this afternoon.
SPEAKER BAACK: You have heard the motion to recess. All those in favor say aye. Opposed no. We are recessed.
SPEAKER BAACK PRESIDING
SPEAKER BAACK: Welcome to the George W Norris Legislative
Chamber. Roll call.
CLERK: Quorum present, Mr. President.
SPEAKER BAACK: Do you have items for the record?
CLERK: Mr. President, I do, thank you. Enrollment and Review reports LB 1001, LB 431, LB 431A, LB 1192, LB 1192A, LB 672, LB 899 to Select file, some of those having Enrollment and
Review amendments attached. (See pages 2091-92 of the Legislative Journal.)
In addition to that, Mr. President, I have amendments to be withdrawn to LB 988 that were offered by Senator Beutler, and amendments to LB 719. (See pages 209293 of the Legislative Journal.) That's all that I have, Mr. President.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Mr. Clerk. I will make an announcement right now. We do have a number of bills that are on Select File that do not have amendments on presently and at three o'clock I plan on going through this list. So you can take down the numbers now. And these are clean bills and these are the bills that we'll go to at three o'clock. And if they have no amendments on, we'll go ahead and move them. LB 542, LB 965, LB 976, LB 988, LB 1099 and LB 1099A. And if there are other bills that are on Select File that people are willing to pull their amendments off of, please let me know the numbers and we'll do another one of these later on in the day. Mr. Clerk, LB 719.
CLERK: Mr. President, 719 was last discussed this morning by the Legislature. Senator Conway had offered AM3932 as an amendment to the bill. Mr. President, Senator Conway would move to amend 3932. Senator, I have your AM4256 in front of me. (The Conway amendment appears on pages 2093-95 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Conway.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and members, the amendment to the amendment that I'm now offering follows my normal mode of being as accommodating as possible for my member friends who had some concerns and did yeoman's work last year with respect to try to put some form of accountability Into that particular process. As we mentioned before, it only kicks in after $15 million has been distributed in the original fashion, and that is what I was objecting to was the original fashion of the distribution. So, not wanting to disrupt that particular process, which I think was a good process, I don't know whether we'll ever get to that $15 million for that to kick in, what I an, offering as my amendment to the* amendment is only to distribute under this level payment pattern that I offered to you under AM3932 that will only address that first 15 million. Once the 15 million has been distributed, under the format of
3932 that I offered and discussed earlier today, then it will kick in under a performance based program, leaving that intact just as Senator Withem and David Bernard-Stevens alluded to earlier in the discussion. So I offer that amendment to the amendment. It will be passed out. It's ... having multiples made right now and so you will have it: on your desk while we're discussing it, so it will be there shortly and you can look at it specifically. But what it does simply is applies the even distribution of the bonus monies, if you will, up to $15 million, using a flat distribution formula and then at $15 million we will stay with the original concept that was offered last year by Senator Withem and Senator David Bernard-Stevens that we adopted allowing for a performance base analysis and distribution of additional monies beyond 15, and using that technique.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Conway. Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Mr. Speaker and members of the body, I do plan to support this Conway amendment which will, I think, get the underlying Conway amendment into better shape. And I will still oppose the underlying Conway amendment. The concept of mandating in state statute that these dollars have to be distributed on an equal basis really, really still does pull the heart out of one of the things that was intended with LB 89. One of the things that was intended with LB 89 was that labor and management would sit down at the local level and make a collective decision in terms of the best way to distribute, to help education lead to prosperity dollars, that it may not be the same in every district, that there may be a school district that genuinely is having problems retaining their quality career teachers and that in that district, for sound educational reasons, maybe more dollars do need to go to the people up at the other end of the...higher into the pay scale, that another school district, they may make a determination that the dollars ... that they're having trouble attracting early teachers, young teachers, and that the best thing they could do would be to put it on as a signing bonus. And they have the ability, even with the first $15 million, to make a collective decision, labor and management sitting down together and saying, some of these funds really do need to go to help compensate the elementary math teacher who is spending time working with teachers throughout the district to improve their abilities to teach math, and is working on new math ideas and is attending conferences across the country. Some of that money needs to go
there. The school districts were empowered to make those decisions. What happened? And this is the problem, this is the problem Senator Conway is attempting to address here. What happened was in most cases the teachers came in with a plan and the administrators, the supposed educational leaders in our state, who were supposed to be making sound judgments on where school districts ought to be going to improve themselves, gave a collective shrug of their shoulders and said, your money, do anything you want to with it. It was really management's responsibility to come in with counterplans on how the money could be used more effectively to promote quality education. But the administrators of the state, I don't know as a collective judgment or individually, by coincidence, came to the conclusion, teachers' money, do with it as you please. The administrators on this particular bill were never particularly happy with it, were never particularly supportive of it, but they never really quite had the whatever it takes to come in and make suggestions to improve it. And they certainly didn't do anything at the local level because they almost all said, teachers' union, distribute it the way you want to. I don't like the way the teachers' union distributed it. I share that same concern that Senator Conway had. But I think maybe, if anything, rather than mandating equalized dollar distribution which is...it really takes any gem of this money being used as...as solving educational problems, takes that out totally, maybe what we ought to be doing is working on language that would mandate that...
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR WITHEM: ... that the administrators would at least be forced to give some creative thought on what they think needs to be done with these dollars and that they show some leadership in this area instead of just acquiescing. I agree again with ... with this version ... this amendment to the amendment because it does then leave in place the performance base concept. I will be opposing this particular amendment of Senator Conway's after this amendment goes on. I share his frustration. I think there are other ways of getting at the frustration. I'm as frustrated with it as if you can recall last year when we were reauthorizing LB, 91, 1 was very frustrated and I would appreciate other thoughts on how we may deal with that frustration. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Senator Schimek.
Senator Moore, on the Conway amendment. I do not see Senator Moore. Senator Robinson, on the Conway amendment.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. Chairman and members of the body, I rise to support the Conway amendment. And I hope you support the amendment and then ... this amendment and then. support his original amendment. Senator Withem can talk all he wants to about the funds going back to the local education association. But if you know any... if you know the workings of local education associations, you know the teachers that have just been there a few years have nothing to say about it. If you think so, get ahold of some of your people, see how the money was distributed. I had ... I had a number of letters from people, from young teachers that felt that they weren't treated fairly on this issue. So I would urge you to support the Conway amendment to the amendment and then his original amendment. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Robinson. Senator Lynch.
SENATOR LYNCH: Mr. Speaker and members, I haven't read the latest amendment that was just passed out but it probably is like the previous amendment which wasn't published in the Journal and we got on Select File here too. In any case, I was only going to comment and my good friend, Senator Nelson, mentioned that she know a family of two teachers, husband and wife, maybe, I'm not sure, sister and sister, that were making a lot of money. And I would just like to point out that I ... this whole effort had to do with teachers and not a family, it had to do with a teacher and what a teacher is really worth, not how much the hush-and or the wife might be worth or whatever job they have, or not how much the collective income is of the whole family, including the mother and the father, or anybody else. And I hope we don't lose eight of that. How much the family makes from teaching is another issue and, I guess, if you want to check into the postsecondary systems, you might find families making well over $200,000, both that were teachers. But that's not the point either. The point is that these funds for the HELP program were developed, as has been said before, to help reward, in a sense, but at least recognize the excellence of teachers and the hard work they accomplish. It seems so easy for us to pick on teachers and I don't know why. It can be easy to pick on anybody, I guess, if it seems popular back home for you to do that. But I would think that teachers, In some ways, have to be blessed with a lot of grace to be able to put up with
some of the treatment they get and continue to produce the fine work that they do. The amendment, as proposed by Senator Conway, violates the trust, if we're talking about trust again, of the proposal as was first proposed and was, in fact, adopted by the Legislature. I hope, at this late date, with an amendment that never had a hearing which was thrown in on Select file, will be treated as such and not be considered seriously by this body.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Lynch. Senator Nelson, on the amendment to the amendment. Anyone else wishing to address this amendment? Seeing no one, Senator Conway, did you wish to close on your amendment to the amendment?
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Baack, and members, the amendment to the amendment, as I alluded to before, is simply to leave the performance based statutes alone as they were designed last year and that, I think, is a good concept. I originally drafted it without looking at performance base simply because, again, it's somewhat of a ghost in that it only kicks in after the first $15 million has been distributed and, therefore, the chances of us getting to that maybe or maybe not ever come into place simply because it takes $15 million to be distributed first. And so I am certainly very willing to say that this distribution of the first $15 million we ought to have some control over. We ought to be in a position where in the future as we go out and speak to people and say, what are we doing with this first $15 million, is it being directed to follow the goals and the objectives that LB 89 and LB 91 were purported to try to address, to try to get youngest... our young brightest and beat people to enter the profession, to try to get people to enhance their academic standing while they're in the profession and then continue with their education? And the very fact that you might say we're only getting maybe 30 cents on the dollar if, in fact, the distribution formula is such that it's the dominant portion or at least a majority of the portion is having to be expensed out to the older teachers, not that they have a salary that is particularly respectable as well but the real question in mind was trying to entice young people in the profession and then trying to keep them in the profession. And, in this way, at least everyone will get the same amount, each teacher probably contributing a very similar amount in terms of their contribution to the educational process. It will help thwart at least any concerns that some people have relative to any dissension with any school system over who gets what and I think
is a much fairer way to try to better address the distribution in a way that it will accomplish the goals that LB 89 and LB 91 originally were intended to address. So the amendment to the amendment is simply looking at that first $15 million distribution.
SPEAKER BAACK: You've heard the closing on the amendment. We will now vote on that, on the amendment to the amendment by Senator Conway. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 25 ayes, nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Conway's amendment to the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment to the amendment is adopted. We are back on the amendment as amended. Senator Conway.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and members, we are in the form now to, hopefully, attach to LB 719 the concept. And, again, what it amounts to is it's simply the fact that when the school system via whatever formula is in the legislation, and most of you are familiar with what that formula is, at least to date, and however much money ends up being in the pool and once that is determined, a school system then qualifies and gets X amount of dollars. Once the dollars are to be sent to the school system, that school system will simply distribute those dollars on an even fashion by taking the total number of teachers that they have in their system qualified for the pool, divide into the pool, and will tell them exactly how much each teacher will get. They will all get exactly the same amount within that school system. Again, in my estimation, giving a higher percentage, in essence, to the lower paid teacher and a less percentage to the higher paid teacher but it will be the same amount. It will be the same dollar figure that each one would get. It will not affect, in any way, the ability to say that your school system has an average teacher salary of 28,000 or whatever it may be, because it will work into the aver age, but it will better, I think, address the goals of trying to say that we're making sure that our dollars that are being spent the state level for the purpose of enticing people in and keeping people into the profession are directed evenly across the board. And so it's not a hard concept to understand. I offer it as an, I think, an attempt to provide some solution to better meet the objectives that have been purported in LB 89 and LB 91.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Conway. We are on the Conway amendment. Senator Schimek.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: Yes, thank you, Mr. President, and members of the body, I rise in opposition to the Conway amendment, not, Senator Conway, that I don't agree with basically what you're trying to do here, but I don't know that I think this is the right way to do it. I mean, I don't think this is the right way to do it. I do have serious concerns over particularly those beginning teachers' salaries and I have, in my hands, some information from the Department of Education that talks about 43 teachers in the State of Nebraska that make less than $14,000 a year. And the lowest one on that salary schedule is $9,934 a year. These teachers range in experience from one year to 23 years. The one who has been in teaching for 23 years is making $13,200. That is criminal. The one who is making the least amount of money, $9,934, has only been in teaching one year. How anybody, however, could support a family on $9,934 a year is beyond my comprehension. I'm sure there are a lot of people who do it, but I imagine they have to supplement those incomes with food stamps and a lot of other kinds of services. We have got one teacher in Nuckolls County that has been teaching for 15 years who is making $10,800 a year. I think that's a serious problem. And 1, all through this debate this year about the teachers' salaries, I felt that maybe we were approaching the problem from the wrong direction and that maybe it isn't really the state's responsibility to set those teachers' salaries and to set them at an adequate range, that maybe it's up to the local districts to come up with that money. However, I think that we, as legislators, have overall responsibility for the educational institutions in this state and I would suggest to you that maybe rather than going through all these gyrations that we've been going through this year trying to find money from a lot of different funds, that we should simply say to those local school districts, look, we believe the salaries of the beginning teacher in this state should be set at whatever we come up with, 17,000, 18,000, whatever, and, you know, you have the choice of meeting that or not but if you don't, here's what happens to the state aid that you receive. I mean, it's kind of a handle and it's kind of a maybe a carrot and a stick approach but why are we struggling to come up with the money for those salaries for teachers all over this state when it's really the responsibility of the local school boards? It's unconscionable that these local school
districts are not paying their teachers more in the case of these 43 that are making under $14,000 a year. I have no idea how many teachers there are in the 14,000 to 17,000 dollar category, for instance. If every one of these school districts had to meet that, say, minimum $17,000 range, there's only one school district that has four teachers. Most of them only have one. So we're talking about probably the most any school district would have to come up with to meet that minimum criteria for these 43 teachers anyway would be $16,000 for the school district. I realize that in some cases these are very small districts and we're talking about maybe very few families in these districts.
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: But if we want fairness in our system, I think they either have to pay the teachers decently or find some other solution. With that, I would just encourage that we not support the Conway amendment at this time, even though I think, Senator Conway, your heart is in the right place, for sure.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Schimek. Senator Robinson, you're next.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. Speaker, members of the body, you know, I listened to Senator Schimek and I couldn't believe that she was opposing Senator Conway's amendment because she was getting at the... at the real problem that we have with teachers' salaries. The lower paid teachers do not receive as much. And that's what Senator Conway is getting at. Now I see no reason you shouldn't support this. The high priced teachers, they're going to get their share, but the lower...the lower salaried teachers, they will probably get another 50 or 75 dollars, which, in their case, it's going to help them a lot. Might buy a couple of sacks of groceries for them. But I have...I have a question for Senator Withem, if he would respond, please. Is Senator Withem around?
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Working on economic development here, Senator Withem, and I ... Senator Withem, your telling Senator Conway, and I guess I can include myself in there that we're breaking with what happened. Now you said all these people got together and said the unions ... or excuse me, I used the wrong word, the
education associations and the administration should dole this money out and in the next sentence or two you said that the administration has really gotten out of it and they've left it up to the teachers' association. What group got together? I would like to know the people that got together and were for this concept of letting the teacher associations and the administrators dole the money out.
SENATOR WITHEM: It was a group of 49 people called the Nebraska Legislature.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Okay, I appreciate that. I ... I thought... I thought maybe you might have asked a few teachers, like Senator Schimek was talking about, that 9,000 ... was it a $9,000 teacher or a $14,000 teacher, or some of these people that are making 17,000 or 18,000, not these people that are making 30 and 35, $40,000 out there. I think this is just a little morsel we could help these people with. And after you've mentioned the 49 people that did it, I'm much stronger in support of this amendment. So I would urge all of you to support the Conway amendment. I think it's a just thing to do. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Than;- you, Senator Robinson. Senator Nelson.
SENATOR NELSON: Mr. Speaker, I can't remember whether Senator Schimek was here when we discussed the LB 89 back four years ago or not., Senator Schimek, you're getting right at the concern that Senator Smith and I had, again, is the division of the money. The idea behind it was, and it flip-flopped on us, was that a lot of these districts had the ability to pay and you ... you struck it on the head. The first place is they don't want to keep the teachers more than two years or three years, they're locked in for tenure. When I traveled the schools up in the Valentine area, up in there, I asked, do you have trouble getting teachers? Oh my, no, we had 40 or 42 apply. Well, I suppose $9,000 a year at teaching was more than $9,000 a year at farming, so it didn't seem too bad. But, on the other hand, you have my sheet of paper, the rest of the story. I went down five or six for that paper that you have to double check the valuation behind each one of those students and I think you will find ... and I'm going strictly by memory now, 300,000 and tip, plus. Lochland Country district in Hastings, $1,534,000 behind each student. They pay a whole sum of $17,100, 11 students. That's the extreme. Grand Island has $117,000 behind each student, over 7,000 students. Their teachers average thirty-two
thousand eight hundred and I think it's twenty-five dollars. There is no comparison in the ability to pay. So many of these... and that's exactly what we're talking about right now. I agree with Senator Schimek a hundred percent. We should address the low-paid teachers. Somehow or another we always want local control. They don't give an ounce about state aid. They don't get enough to make a bit of difference with three students or five students or six in the school. But that's only part of the story. And, as I say, Senator Schimek has my paper because I went down five or six or seven to see what the circumstances were and how much valuation behind the student. There's plenty of dollars there and it may only cost those farmers another 50 or 75 dollars that maybe they could get better quality teachers and maybe not. I'm not saying that, I do not know that. But that's part of the problem. But we do need to address that lower paid teacher. We don't need ... what we need to do is pay the teachers tuition or something and they're no different than anyone of us down here or in any other profession, help them upgrade their education, help the lower ones upgrade it, therefore, they get more salary. We're going at it the wrong way. Let's ... then the schools help, the students are helped, everyone, let them... let them be retrained or let them get another field or help, the teachers in their education and then automatically they get an increase in salary. But it's the valuation that's behind those students and that local district just decides not to pay, so now we're making an issue for 23,000 teachers based on those 43 teachers, and it's not: the whole story. And if Senator Schimek wants a little of my time, she has my sheet on the valuation. I think Hastings is like 143,000 behind each student. So the money is there in the district if they want to pay it. So I don't... I have a problem coming down to the Legislature and saying that we have to ... we have to address those very low-paid ones. I can buy a Chevy or I can buy a Cadillac, whichever one I want to pay for. But I don't think it's right to come to the Legislature based on those 43 teachers.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Schimek, did you... you've got about one minute of her time.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: Yes, I will try to respond in that time. I don't know if I have enough time. But, Senator Nelson, I understand the point you're trying to make and Senator Conway and I were just talking and, you know, I agree with him, we should say there could be... there should be a salary level of,
say, $17,000. However, if a district falls below a certain mill levy, then...then we help them pick up the tab. I mean, there are really poor districts in this state. I recognize that. But some of them that are paying the lowest salaries are not poor and they should come up to speed. And I think we can all agree on that. I would also like to point out that many times there is peer pressure, if you will, or pressure in-the community because if we pay one teacher who happens to be a farmer's wife any more, then all the neighbors will complain, and so forth. If the state would set the policy, then I don't think there would be some of that pressure. In most cases,...
SPEAKER BAACK: Time.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: ... in fact, all 43 of these teachers happen to be female. It happens time and again.
SPEAKER BAACK: Time has expired. Senator Conway, you're next.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and members, I will try to be somewhat brief but Senator Schimek and Senator Nelson have hit upon something that if you go back to LB 89 when we first started discussing that, there was amendments that I offered at that time not giving bonuses to teachers who happened to be in some of those other districts. Some people thought that was more of a stick approach than a carrot approach trying to get people ... those districts to bring those up. And I can remember getting into a debate with Senator Smith at that time in the Adams County area when she was fighting to make sure that all of those teachers, regardless of what their salaries were, to be part of the !,>onus system. And what that did and Senator Schimek doesn't have ... she needs another column on her list, looking at those lowest paid teachers, when we did the research at that time we found in almost every single case the teacher who was making the very low end, the 9, 10, 11, 12, 13,000 dollar range, in almost every single case they were in some of the districts that had the lowest mill levy -.Applied for education in the state. These were the school systems who could most afford. to pay and everybody thought that they were the poor districts and that's why they weren't paying. They were not paying because they didn't want to pay and they didn't want to see that mill levy that might be 45 or 50 cents go up. The highest paid teachers were those in most cases that were in the districts that were up against the wall, the ones who were actually reaching down the farthest to pick up the tab to pay for good
education. And so that reversal or that's just an upside down situation relative to teacher's salary and affordability and we get into that whole question that we're going back into 89, but much of that data has been forgotten and, like I say, I was rejuvenated when I was speaking to a class last week because I had to go back and think about some of those things again. What this is doing... and I wish that I would have, if you go back through LB 89 and we think about what we did at that time, a lot of us were very optimistic. Remember, we discussed the local control and let this local school system and those teachers make some kind of decision in terms of how they wanted to invest this money into their education. And some of us even felt and I held out hope for the first year until history proved us wrong that some of these schools would reward those lowest paid teachers to try to entice people into their school system and to have colleagues that were being brought in that were talented colleagues to contribute to the educational system. I even had dreams and visions that some of that money might be set aside into a pool and allow some of those initial entry level teachers to apply for continuing education grants and go back and maybe work on a masters because then they would qualify for more points going into the future system. But what we found is none of those kinds of innovative ideas came out of this. What we found was most of the monies were distributed simply as per a pro ration relative to salary schedule. And if that be the case, I think they actually were working counter to what we intended. So, in light of' watching this unfold for a couple of years, I think the only recourse is that if, in fact, those novel ideas have never been implemented, probably never will be implemented, that it's time for us to be able to justify looking at the goals of bringing in quality people and getting those entry salary commitments up a little bit through the bonus system that we're offering arid to move to a flat rate and simply do away with these...these wishes and dreams that we have learned will never...never come to pass. So I think this is a much better way to address it at this time.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Conway. Senator Robak, you're next. The question has been called. Do I see five hands? I do. We will now vote on ceasing debate. All those in favor vote aye, vote no. We are voting on ceasing debate. Have you all voted? Record, Mr. Clerk.
ASSISTANT CLERK: 25 ayes, 0 nays to cease debate, Mr. A:. President.
SPEAKER BAACK: Debate has ceased. Senator Conway, do you wish to close?
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Baack. I will be very, very brief. I know many people want to move on to other issues. This one is certainly simple enough that it doesn't need a long closing and dragging the process on any longer. It's simply a belief that the distribution formula ought to be done in a more fair fashion and if you agree with that, you will vote for the Conway amendment. If you don't, I suppose that you won't. But I think it's an attempt for this body to make a statement that we do want to have some kind of follow-up on the goals and aspirations that LB 89 and LB 91 were purported to do and then this is a way to... to better able to accomplish that. So, with that, I offer this amendment to you and hope that the body will advance it.
SPEAKER BAACK: You've heard the closing on the Conway amendment. We will now vote on that amendment. All those in favor vote ay(!, opposed vote no. Have you all voted? Have you all voted? Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 10 ayes, 21 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment fails. The next item, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: Mr. President, Senator Lynch would move to amend. (See AM3712 on page 2018 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Lynch.
SENATOR LYNCH: Mr. Speaker and members, hopefully, this is not a controversial amendment and won't take very long. As the bill was originally discussed by Senator Lamb, Section 3, on page 3, provided that where construction expansion or alteration to the district buildings will cost an increase in the building operation and maintenance cost of at least 5 percent, the department shall document the project and, in a sense, and to make a long story short, will provide that if that school district is at its mill levy limit, at its taxing limit, they would be able to exceed it only for that purpose because it was an undetermined cost at the time. And I supported that. Sometimes the limits on local jurisdictions of government can
provide where certain circumstances exist, in the case of Lexington, maybe and even others, that that could happen. This amendment simply provides that in some cases also the same school districts, because of a court order or because of action by the CIR might cause the same kind of a circumstance. And, without reading the paragraph, it simply adds the same language that we added for buildings and the cost of maintenance and the operation of those buildings for those kinds of costs that could be enforced on school districts as a result of CIR action or court orders. And that's as 'simple as that. it's been... it... the language has, in fact, been discussed with the school boards association and the school administrators association and the teachers and they all agree to it and I think would be grateful if you would support this amendment. I will try to answer any questions you might have.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Lynch. On the Lynch amendment, Senator Schimek, did you wish to address this amendment? Senator Wesely, did you wish to address this amendment?
SENATOR WESELY: Question.
SPEAKER BAACK: No, not yet. Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would like to address this amendment. it's simply to say I do support it. One of the unfinished pieces of business that we knew was in LB 1059 when we passed it and just could not reach a consensus of what needed to be done when it went through was the potential that for some school districts living under a budgetary limitation, on one hand, and being forced by the Commission on Industrial Relations to raise teacher salaries. On the other hand, there might be a conflict and when that conflict would occur what would happen would be things like ... things like materials, supplies, other things that benefit students directly would be cut because we all know administrators' salaries couldn't be cut, but the other sort of things would be ... would be subject to a cut. This summer a number of people did a fair amount of work on this issue and came up with this concept that the orders ... dollars expended beyond the lid required by a Commission on Industrial Relations would be free from lid restraints made sense, particularly as we got into it. I think when we were originally doing the school finance issue and this came up we had an assumption that that might cost... be a lot of money, a huge sum
of money that would be coming out of the huge sum of money that the local schools would have to pay and that everybody would go to the CIR. The more we understand about this, that's less likely to happen that the school districts that go to the CIR and are successful, or the unions that go to the CIR and are successful are usually those that can demonstrate that they're paid considerably less than their array. And that's usually a very... relatively small percentage of people. It would just be the expenditures that could be documented that go beyond the budget limitation and it should not have the major impact and is a way of resolving a conflict that we know is there in the statutes and that it needs to be done.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Senator Morrissey. Senator Lamb. Senator Robak. Senator Nelson.
SENATOR NELSON: Yes, thank you. It appears to me this is the same thing that was discussed in Education public hearings last year and maybe Senator Lynch or Senator Withem can help me out on this. But hurriedly getting my bill book, or my book, it says a district that demonstrates to the satisfaction of the State Board ... it's there on page 2018, satisfaction to the State Board that as a result of an order entered into by the Commission of Industrial Relations pursuant to a section establishing rates of pay benefits the department shall compute the amount by which the increase in employee cost exceeds the district's applicable growth rate and shall allow the district to increase its general fund. Folks, that does away with one of the provisions in LB 1059. In LB 1059, it was sold to my people that it would be property tax reduction and that that would not go for additional expense of subdivisions or government. And this flies right in the face. Any school or any school district or any teacher would be very, very foolish not to go to the CIR and, in essence, then the district would be... there would be no budget limit on that particular district. And I have...I have a real problem with that And, unless I'm wrong, maybe Senator Lynch or Senator .,an help me. But, in essence, this does away with the lid school districts and ... because then if any teacher that goes to the CIR and there is a settlement there, that lid means absolutely nothing. So I want the body to understand that. If I'm wrong, I stand to be corrected.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Is that a question for me?
SENATOR NELSON: I guess if you want... if you can explain it any better than I, or it does...any teacher then would have the ability. And they would be foolish. Let's be... let's use common sense, not to go to the CIR and not settle a contract, then that school...maybe Senator Lamb, he was in on that, can help me out, then that school then could exceed the budget limit that was imposed in LB 1059. 1 guess my answer is yes or no. Is that correct, Senator Withem?
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: No.
SENATOR NELSON: I guess maybe I have to disagree but then that's fine, that's part of the legislative process, but that's the way I read it.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Nelson. Senator Lamb.
SENATOR LAMB: The question has been called. Do I see five hands? I do. We will now vote on ceasing debate. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 27 ayes, 0 nays to cease debate, Mr. President.
SPEAKER BAACK: Debate has ceased. Senator Lynch, would you like to close?
SENATOR LYNCH: Mr. Speaker and members, just simply put, I appreciate the consideration of the Legislature and simply feel that this would give people the same consideration we give the buildings. And I would yield the rest of my closing time to Senator Withem.
SPEAKER BAACK: You've heard the ... oh, Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, members, thank you, Senator Lynch. I just did want to respond to what Senator Nelson did indicate, with a little more explanation than the simple no answer to her question. The perception that she is leaving with people that all you have to do to get more money is just go to the CIR is totally absurd. The CIR does adjust salaries of public employees when they can't reach settlement and when they can document that they are paid considerably less than other
similarly situated public employee unions. You have to demonstrate that. You have to document it. You can't just simply go and say we want more money, let's go to the CIR, and the CIR gives a settlement. Very few of these happen. When they do, they are, as a result of a school district that's similarly situated, paying less, at which time the CIR will order a higher settlement. It certainly does not gut the lid. The lid is still there, only that portion of the expenditures that are court ordered that does, in fact, exceed the lid would be free from the lid. So, I mean, once you understand the process of how the CIR operates, I think it's much, much less of a concern than it may have been on the initial first blush when we looked at it and were nervous about doing anything with the budget limitation. The budget limitation is still there in very strong condition as a result of this amendment. I would urge you to support Senator Lynch's amendment..
SPEAKER BAACK: You've heard the closing on the amendment by Senator Lynch. We'll now vote on that amendment. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 26 ayes, 1 nay, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Lynch's amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment is adopted.
CLERK: Mr. President, Senator Robinson would move to amend the bill. (The Robinson amendment appears on page 2096 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Robinson.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. President and members of the Chamber, I...what I'm doing is I'm doing away with the hold harmless, returning the hold harmless let's just say for school year '92-93 and not extend it until 1994-95. I think this was brought to us. I don't think it was discussed very thoroughly . I think Senator Lamb slipped one in on us. I know there are a lot of winners and there are a lot of losers. Senator Withem. Is Senator Withem around? Okay. But it's my perception of this if, for example, If you might lose $80,000 one year because of the hold harmless, you would lose $80,000 the next year on hold harmless. Now there's some... there's some awful big losers in this over a two-year period of time. And I think the thing that really concerns me Is the inconsistency that we have. What do
we do on the student growth? We move it ahead, don't we? What do we do with the hold harmless? We stop it right there. We stop it right there. Now, boy ... boys and girls, excuse me, I just about slipped there, that is not consistent, folks. We speed it up for one year, then we... then we put the snow plow right in front of it and we can't move on. Now it is not consistent, whether one likes It or not. I know that... I know that there's some deals been made on this, if we do this, we'll do this. But the consistency is not there if you take a good look at it, and there's some big losers. There's some schools that lose on the hold harmless and they also lose on the student growth. I think it's time we should take a couple of steps back and say, is there...is there any equality to this? Not when you fiddle with one part of it over here and then you go over here and touch it up a little here because some people are going to get caught in the middle. It's very 31mple. We know why Senator Lamb is doing it, because all of his schools out there in western Nebraska, all the Class 1 schools are going to make a lot of money on this. We know that's the reason he's doing it. But someone else is going to pay for it over the next two years. It wouldn't have bothered me so much if we had been consistent on the last one but we certainly are not consistent when we talk about both of these issues, folks, we're just not consistent. I would urge you to vote for this amendment. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Robinson. Senator Lamb.
SENATOR LAMB: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and members, of course, I rise to oppose this motion which I think technically is a reconsideration motion but I will not bring that up at this point because it takes just as long to vote down a reconsideration motion as it does to deal with this. So I have just had distributed on your desks reasons why we need the hold harmless for a couple more years. It's exactly what Senator Robinson says, we should not be doing these piecemeal things but there are a number of things in this letter which I requested from the Department of Education the various things that are going to affect the distribution formula over the next several years. These are the things. And so my contention is that if we take huge amounts of money away from some of these districts, now when this first hold harmless period runs out, then we're doing ... we're doing a disservice to those schools because that money might be restored, that money might be restored. Tim Kemper has listed here, one, two, three, four, five, six, six paragraphs, six different reasons why the state aid situation
will change in this time when we're in a transition period or a fluctuation period as far as our valuations, our property tax are concerned. So we did have a lot of debate on this the other day. The motion to advance th13 part of the amendment got a substantial vote. This is technically a reconsideration which should not even be up before us at this time. So I would just ask you not to spend a lot of time on this. Let's just vote it up or down, preferably down.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Lamb. Senator Morrissey.
SENATOR MORRISSEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and members, just briefly, I sure don't want to take an inordinate amount of time on this bill but I agree completely with the concept that Senator Robinson brought forward. If, indeed, 1059 was a needs based type of situation, I really disagree with the hold harmless. I agree with the proof of the need that Senator Schrock's amendment brought. I think these, the hold harmless and Senator Schrock's amendment are just complete opposites and in conflict with each other. I would support the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Morrissey. Senator Abboud. Senator Robinson. Senator Schimek. That won't be necessary. Yours is the last light on. Senator Robinson, did you wish to close?
SENATOR ROBINSON: We come to the 57th day, I guess it was the 56th or the 54th when Senator Lamb slithered this one in on us. And it's like Senator Morrissey said, it's not consistent. It's a conflict. Just let me read you a few of them. Remember, you're going to lose this for two years. York Schools will lose... they will lose $50,000. I know these figures don't mean anything. Lincoln Schools are going to lose close to a million; Columbus over $100,000. 1 wonder if they know they're going to lose this money; OPS, oh, close to $1.4 million; south Sarpy, $42,000, on we go; Beatrice, sixty some thousand dollars; Hastings, $85,000; Norfolk, $104,000 and on we go, to $109,000, over half a million dollars for the Millard Schools. Kearney'is going to lose $100,000, on we go. Grand Island, $160,000; Papillion LaVista, $120,001); Bellevue, 150,000. Why? Because we're inconsistent. We speed it up on one side to help someone out. We put the roadblock on the other side, put the old roadblock there. Senator Lamb, are you coming back? No, I ... no, that's right, you're not coming hack next year. I'll bet that next guy will get schooled well on this issue. Do you
think this will come back up again? No, it will never come back up again, you can bet. I'll bet you it's back up here in two years. I hope you people understood those figures. The inconsistency of this body, I will tell you, it really is something when it comes to this. On the 57th day there's a conflict, it's inconsistent and it's bad public policy. I would urge you to defeat this amendment. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Good closing. We will...
SENATOR ROBINSON: I got in a trance because I was looking at that white hair over there, Senator Lindsay. I really, I really fouled up. You know what I want you to do. Push that green button..
SPEAKER BAACK: You've heard the closing on the amendment offered by Senator Robinson. We will now vote on that amendment. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Senator Robinson.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Call of the house, please.
SPEAKER BAACK: We have a request for a call of the house. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 15 ayes, 0 nays to go under call.
SPEAKER BAACK: The house is under call. All members please report to the Chamber and record your presence. The house is under call. All members please report to the Chamber and record your presence. The house is under call. The house is under call. Members, please report to the Chamber and record your presence. The house is under call. Senator Ashford, record your presence, please. Senator Bohlke, record your presence, please. Senator Warner, would you record your presence, please. Senator Rasmussen, would you record your presence, please. We are looking for Senators Bernard-Stevens and Wesely. The house is under call. Members, please report to the Chamber. We are looking for Senator Bernard-Stevens. Senator Schmit, would you record your presence, please. All members are now present. We will have a roll call vote on the Robinson amendment. Please keep your conversations down so the Clerk may hear your responses. Mr. Clerk, call the roll.
CLERK: (Roll call vote taken. See pages 2096-97 of the
Legislative Journal.) 13 ayes, 26 nays, Mr. President.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment fails. I will raise the call. Mr. Clerk, the next item.
CLERK: Mr. President, Senator Lynch and Schrock would move to amend.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Lynch.
SENATOR LYNCH: Mr. Speaker and members, I intend to... I haven't had a chance to talk to Senator Schrock, but after talking with a number of people, I intend to withdraw this at this time. I don't like being part of the Christmas tree effort here and, obviously, it is. The amendment I offered had to do with the pop tax for the teachers' salaries our intention was to add that as an amendment to LB 1011, with no guarantee, and no one can, I guess, that we will get to that piece of legislation. But, on the other hand, I hope we do. We withdraw it in good faith and out of consideration for the rest of the agenda. In withdrawing this, I hope it's another indication of cooperation by teachers for the entire Legislature, and, in fact, the State of Nebraska to try to get through with this business as quickly as possible. I also would like to have you keep that in mind when we and, hopefully, will get to LB 1011 which is Senator Schrock's bill and our teachers' salary...our teachers' salary bill would be an amendment to that. So, with that, I would withdraw the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: It is withdrawn.
CLERK: Mr. President, Senator Lindsay would move to amend. (The Lindsay amendment appears on page 2097 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Lindsay.
SENATOR LINDSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members. This amendment's being passed around to you now. What it would do is to add language that provides that any school district that certifies under the provisions of the subsection would not have a reduction in state aid because of the adjustment made by this subsection. Basically what it is, it's a hold harmless provision for those school districts which would lose money, as Senator Robinson's been harping on for a couple hours now, about
those school districts that would lose money, one of those, of course, being the Omaha Public Schools, which is why I've offered the amendment. If we're interested in keeping things, some of these school districts that Senator Lamb has referred to, in holding them harmless from those reductions in state aid I think it's important that we, even through this adjustment, that we continue to protect them. OPS does not have that protection out there from the way I understand it and I'm certainly no expert in this area, but looking at the figures it looks that OPS stands to lose $300,000 even though OPS's growth in the number of students is roughly equivalent to that number of students that Lincoln has, yet Lincoln stands to gain and OPS stands to lose and, to me, that doesn't make sense. If there's going to-be an increase in the number of students of roughly the same amount, it would make sense that at least OPS ought to stay where it is rather than be going backwards from where they were to get the same ... to get...when it has to instruct the same number of additional students that other school districts in the state have to do. I'd urge that the amendment be considered and if you have questions, I'll probably defer them so you might ask somebody who knows more about the issue.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Lindsay. While the Legislature's in session and capable of transacting business, I propose. to sign and do sign Legislative Resolution 429. Senator Warner.
SENATOR WARNER: Mr. President, I'd rise to oppose the amendment. As I understand the situation of the amendment that was previously adopted on growth factors that did apply to OPS and they did ... would qualify, but because there is a...and, incidentally, that handout is not next year's numbers, that's this year's numbers. Had this amendment been in effect, next year's numbers will obviously be different for every school because of the multiple factor or formula that distributes the money. But because there was an overall reduction in aid using '91-92 school year, and by allowing some school districts based on need of new count, they would receive additional money, Omaha received additional money too. It just so happens, because of how the formula works, that the net benefit of the ... using the increased number and the lesser amount of funds distributed in total that they come out with less than they had before, but it isn't because they didn't qualify as I understand it, from the fact that they had increased in enrollment. It just happens that it works out that way. But the real issue is in the Lamb
amendment that we talked with earlier, it's not unusual when a plan is initially started, a new one, that for a period of time some schools are held harmless if they had a reduction. What we're talking about now are reductions that occur in the normal course of applying that formula to all the schools in the state. If we start saying that no one will, at any time, receive less, no school district will receive less than they did at one other time, Just as well throw the formula away because, in effect, you will not have one. What was done this morning was based on need, the concept that was in 1059. The way it works out, the reduction in...for that last year, the reduction that OPS incurred is less a reduction than it would have been had they not had the growth and I would urge that you'd vote this amendment down because, in fact, there is no unfair treatment. It's, in fact, how the formula works and would work year in and year out.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Warner. Senator Horgan.
SENATOR HORGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members. I would rise in support of Senator Lindsay's amendment. I think you need to look at the figures that were handed out this morning that we spent considerable amount of time addressing and recognizing that there, of all the school districts on this growth factor sheet, there are two districts in there that are experiencing growth and yet are receiving less dollars and that's the Kearney Public Schools and the Omaha Public Schools. They're growing. They're meeting the 1 percent growth factor and yet they're being damaged and losing money as a result of not being held harmless. And so it seems to me that if we've done that in 719, we've said those rural districts that are shrinking in size, we ought to hold them harmless for a period of time because they're going to be damaged by the lack of funds that are going to come to them, we've got two school districts here that are growing in size which means their need is greater, their needs have increased and yet they're taking heavy hits in their budget, so it's even worse because if dollars are equating to need then those school districts that are losing dollars because their student enrollment has gone done, if that is legitimate to say that because of our concern for those districts that, indeed, what we ought to do is we ought to hold them harmless for a period of time, then for those districts who are experiencing growth, for them to be damaged by this formula, and it seems to me that they're being trapped by a formula here, for us to say to them your need is greater but you're going to
suffer and lose money and yet for those districts who have lost students and their need should not be as great, they're going to be held harmless, it doesn't make good public policy to do that and I think we need to seriously look at Senator Lindsay's amendment and what he's trying to do. He's saying for those districts who are experiencing losses outside of those that we exempted this morning, we ought to help them out and particularly when you look at the Kearney situation and the OPS situation, I think those are particularly important school districts to look at. Their student enrollment, their enrollments have increased. Their need by the formula should increase and yet, indeed, what is happening by this formula, by moving this up, we're hitting the Omaha Public Schools for $303,000 and we're hitting the Kearney Public Schools for a relatively small amount of money, but it's significant public policy that we're doing here when we're saying to these school districts your need, obviously, had grown because we recognize that the need is based on enrollment and the Omaha Public Schools, their enrollment grew larger than any other district in the state, but because they're such a large district their factor didn't change and so, as a result, they're being hit by this and -I think it's a legitimate point to be making and I would encourage the body to support Senator Lindsay. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Horgan. Senator Lamb. Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: I was going to ask Senator Lindsay some questions, but he said he would defer them to other people and I'm fearful that he'd defer my question back to me, so I will not be asking him questions. I think this is a good amendment. It's probably something we should have done. If growth is a criteria for ... rapid growth is a figure by which we should make an exception, we should not be, because of rewarding rapid growth, we should not be penalizing the school districts that do experience this rapid growth and that, in effect, is what we're doing with the amendment that was adopted this morning blow I didn't realize this, but OPS meets this standard of I percent growth. They do meet the standard of 1 percent growth, but they receive less money because of it and I couldn't figure out how that happened and I think the way that happens is, because of this change in the formula, one thing that we are doing is taking a pot of money that otherwise would have been distributed to all school districts in the state and we're distributing that only to school districts that receive ... that have this growth,
this more rapid the I percent population growth, and OPS does get some of that money. They do get additional money because of their growth, but they lose money because we've taken this money for rapid growth out of the pot and their share of the loss taking that money out of the pot to give to the rapid growth districts is about $300,000 less than what they get rewarded. And I think it makes sense to hold them harmless for that $300,000 and, Senator Horgan, Senator Lindsay, that's what I understand this amendment does and, with that understanding, I think it's a good idea and I'm planning on supporting it.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Senator Withem, your light is the next light on. Do you wish to speak further?
SENATOR WITHEM: Yeah, I think now I'll argue against the amendment on ... no, I continue to support the amendment. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Schrock.
SENATOR SCHROCK: Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature, this appears to me to be a common sense amendment and I would be supportive.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Morrissey. Senator Lamb. Do I see five hands? I do. We will vote on ceasing debate. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. We are voting on ceasing debate. Have you all voted? Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 15 ayes, 8 nays to cease debate.
SPEAKER BAACK: Debate does not cease. Senator Robinson. Senator Warner.
SENATOR WARNER: Yeah, I wondered if Senator Withem, could I ask you a couple of questions.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem, would you respond, please?
SENATOR WITHEM: Yeah, I may defer them to Senator Lindsay.
SENATOR WARNER: Does this amendment only apply to... to school districts?
SENATOR WITHEM: I don't know, Senator Warner, because I was not
involved in the drafting of it. I'm just reacting to it...
SENATOR WARNER: Okay.
SENATOR WITHEM: ... intuitively.
SENATOR WARNER: Then let me ask this question. Because we are reallocating in an existing year of rapid growth rather than the student enrollment two years before and that, as you stated, does redistribute the pool of funds that is to be distributed under 1059 differently, there are many school districts that would have less revenue than what they would get if the amendment we adopted this morning wasn't there. They...
SENATOR WITHEM: That's...
SENATOR WARNER: ...they would get more.
SENATOR WITHEM: That's correct.
SENATOR WARNER: And the only thing that was done this morning was recognizing that in a school district that had accelerated growth, which under the 1059 they would have to wait two years before they would get that money, which then would be taken away, if that's how we want to look at it, for distribution, but it was recognized that on a need basis the need was then, the current year, and that's when it ought to take effect. You know, what we're doing conceptually here this year I could support that this morning because it was need based. Now we're ... now we're going to go the route where we're, for all practical purposes, we're going to freeze the distribution formula for state aid in the future and nobody ever receives less than what they did in a given year and that means the concept that's contained in 1059 is just, for all practical purposes, is gone, is frozen. And the only way that any time that you adjust for changes in enrollments or tiers or costs, whatever the valuations, would be when in those instances when we have more money. I guess my question is, are we not really abolishing the whole concept, beginning to? I won't argue that it is not also true of the other amendment, the initial hold harmless for those schools that lost money to start with, but we're moving to a major change in it distribution formula that no school in the future will get less than they did the year before irregardless of how the factor works, because that's what this does.
SENATOR WITHEM: If that's a question to me to react to that statement, I certainly don't read it as doing that. First of all, the only school districts to whom this applies are those that meet the 1 percent growth. Correct, Senator Lindsay? Secondly, it is not frozen as they'll receive no less state aid than they did in a previous year. It would be, as I would see it, and there may be some questions about the manner in which this could actually be administered within the Department of Education and I, frankly, don't know about how well it could be administered, but I believe what they do is they take the calculation, what they would have gotten had this amendment not occurred, compare it to what they get when this amendment occurs, and then they get that sum of money and then I assume they do another calculation and distribute the rest of the money based on...to the other school districts based on that money. So it only applies to those school districts that have the triggering amount of growth, but the formula works to the extent where they actually get less money because of the change that was made this morning.
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR WARNER: So then the reduction for this year would apply to all the school districts other than those that had the rapid growth, that that's how it would be.
SENATOR WITHEM: That is my reading of the amendment at the current time, yes.
SENATOR WARNER: And the reduction to the school districts that had rapid growth was not... they still got credit for it, but they didn't net a gain.
SENATOR WITHEM: Right, that's correct.
SENATOR WARNER: Well, I still am of the opinion that once we start doing this mote and more we're going to lead to the point where you did not have a distribution formula. We will come in every year and attempt to put on these kind of amendments and I have a lot of concern about doing that and the school districts involved have nothing to do with my position. Doesn't make any difference because, if it did, I wouldn't have voted for 1059 in the first place, and I did, including the override. But I am concerned if we start manipulating the formula In a way other
than it was...
SPEAKER BAACK: Time.
SENATOR WARNER: ... intended to work...
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Warner. Before I go to the next speaker, I would like to introduce some guests of the Legislature. We have 1 22 fourth graders from Williams Elementary in Columbus. They' re guests of Senator Robak, and their teacher. you folks please stand and be welcomed by the Legislature. Thank you for being with us. Senator Moore.
SENATOR MOORE: Mr. Speaker and members, I, too, rise to oppose Senator Lindsay's amendment and, if you were listening to Senator Warner, he gave the best reason there at the end of his presentation. I voted against the rapid growth amendment this morning. I voted, as I said last week, I voted very reluctantly to continue hold harmless for two years. At least that's, though it may not make sense for a couple of years, is a good argue with all of the uncertainty out there in property taxes and valuations and levies, I don't mind doing that as I made it very clear last week that's the last time that's going to happen, certainly in my opinion, and, as I said then, the majority of my school districts are affected by that, I'll make it clear that something has to change in the formula to do that. What we did this morning was, I would argue, was the biggest change yet in 1059, that rapid growth amendment. There's winners and losers there. I had two of my districts won on that and so, if you want to argue if I should have voted for it, I probably should have, but I guess I'm concerned about making those sorts of changes in the 1059 formula. Lindsay's amendment just tries to make two wrongs make a right, in his eyes, in his school district, and I respect him for that, but I think you're marching down a path ever so slowly at the very beginning of doing some major damage to people like myself who can sit there and defend 1059 an a fairness issue. I can go out to my districts that lose money and say here's the reasons why, here's the reasons why the bill's good, here's the reason why the people that win under this bill win and I don't have any problem doing that. The rapid growth amendment I didn't like. It made some changes that I think disturb some of the moral high ground people like me can take when we get criticized very harshly for 1059 out there. I think Senator Lindsay's amendment is another example of trying to cater to one or two school districts in the
State of Nebraska. Obviously, we do that. Obviously, the hold harmless amendment could be argued caters to a group of...a large group of small school districts. I understand that, but I think Senator Lindsay's amendment coupled with the amendment this morning go down a path that I think is a wrong path to go down. I think it's a wrong path to go down with very little thought by this body. I think it's a wrong path to go to town if you don't happen to be from an area that has a block of votes that can force this body to make a change. I think it's a path you're going to regret. I think the amendment this morning was bad enough. Senator Lindsay's amendment, in my. opinion, makes it worse as far as tearing down some of the very good and sound reasons 1059 is based on and I guess I would be a little disturbed if the body chooses to do that. I would rise to oppose the Lindsay amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Moore. Senator Lynch, you're next.
SENATOR LYNCH: Mr. Speaker and members, I hate to react to Scotty's comments for fear somebody would accuse some of us who might disagree with not taking the moral high ground, but (laugh) I serve with him on the Appropriations Committee so I don't take the comment seriously anyhow. When lie said ... when he said there's a block of votes that could force the Legislature to do something, think back to the first few days of the session. If that were true, we would have fair representation from the Second Congressional District on the Appropriations Committee, first of all. So, obviously, we don't control much of anything around here. Secondly, 719 is what offended the formula, not the Lindsay amendment, and you should all understand that. We're expedi ... I have no problem with it, too serious a problem with it, but it expedites the reimbursement back to the school district. That's different than the formula was originally intended to accomplish, and just... that's all I wanted to mention. I have no problem with it, but I think it makes a lot more sense and if we want to take a moral high ground then I think we should support the Lindsay amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Wesely. The question's been called. Do I see five hands? I do. We will now vote on ceasing debate. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. We are voting on ceasing debate. Have you all voted? Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 25 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, to cease debate.
SPEAKER BAACK: Debate has ceased. Senator Lindsay to close on your amendment.
SENATOR LINDSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Members, this... this amendment is consistent with the intent of what the members adopted earlier. The Moore rationale for opposing this amendment is the same rationale for opposing the amendment we adopted earlier. If you want to have high growth or accelerated growth districts get ... have that considered in their treatment for state aid then this amendment is consistent with that rationale. What this does is says if you have that high growth, you're not going to get hurt under the formula. I think what Senator Warner was talking about is just not accurate if you support the high growth. This does no,'- lead us any further along the road of getting rid of 1059's reasoning than did the amendment this morning. The two go hand-in-hand. What this does is simply says that if a school district meets the criteria that we set forth earlier today, if it meets those criteria then it is protected from losing money. It still is not going to get an increase in money, but it's going to be protected from losing money. It's not, I don't think, an unreasonable amendment. You can certainly vote against this amendment. I would simply ask that if you do so, be consistent with the way you voted earlier on the AM39 ... or 3762. 1 just ask you to be consistent on it. We either support the high growth districts or we don't, but let's not treat them differently. Let's just be consistent on it. I'd urge that the amendment be adopted.
SPEAKER BAACK: You've heard the closing on the Lindsay amendment. We will now vote on that amendment. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. We are voting on the Lindsay amendment. Have you all voted? Have you all voted? Senator Lindsay.
SENATOR LINDSAY: Mr. Speaker, I would ask for a call of the house, accept call-ins.
SPEAKER BAACK: A call of the house has been requested. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 18 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, to go tinder call.
SPEAKER BAACK: The house is under call. All members, please report to the Chamber and record your presence. The house is
under call. A roll call vote has been requested. The house is under call. Members, please report to the Chamber and record your presence. The house is under call. Senator Conway, would you check in, please. Senator Ashford, would you check in, please. Senator Nelson, would you check in, please. The house is under call. Members, please return to your seats and check in. The house is under call. The house is under call. Members, please return to your seats and check in. The house is under call. Senator Beyer, would you check in, please. Senator Rasmussen, would you check in, please. All members who are not excused are now in attendance. We have a roll call vote. Mr. Clerk, call the roll.
CLERK: (Roll call vote taken. See page 2098 of the Legislative Journal.) 22 ayes, 19 nays.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment fails. I will raise the call. Before we proceed to the next item, I would like to introduce a couple of guests of the Legislature today. They are guests of Senator Landis First, we have John Gradwohl and with Dr. Gradwohl the Dean of Faculty of Law, Fojtech Cepl, the head of the Department of Civil Law at Charles University of Prague. Would you please stand and be recognized by the Legislature. Thank you for being with us. Mr. Clerk, next item.
CLERK: Mr. President, a priority motion. Senator Withem would move to reconsider the third portion of, I believe, what was the Lamb amendment, which was AM... or FA356, which was adopted earlier today.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, members of the body, I'm convinced, I am convinced, Senator Moore and Senator Warner did convince me, that the consistent position of the body is we ought to leave the formula of 1059 as it was intended to be; that we ought not to be making these sorts of adjustments for unique districts; that we ought not to be adjusting the formula for to meet special needs of special categories; that the rapid student growth amendment we adopted this morning is probably a mistake. After all, they do get their money eventually. They will ultimately get their funds. It probably was a mistake to adopt that amendment. I would be very interested in hearing the rationale at this point as to why the rapid student growth idea
that meets the needs of the unique school districts, Lincoln School District, the Lincoln School District, Lexington School District and other school districts, why it's so vital to do that but when we have an amendment that will allow a school district, such as the Omaha School District, which is experiencing the same... a high percentage of growth, maybe not quite as high as others, and we have an amendment that simply says that they're not going to get any more money because of their growth, they just won't be penalized because of their growth, that that's bad policy. I would love to hear the rationale. That's why this amendment is up here. I'm serious about it, reconsidering my support for the entire measure. Although there's some good things in LB 719, maybe we ought to leave things as they are. Maybe we ought to let the hold harmless provision go by the wayside and be done with it. Maybe we ought to make the districts that have their growth wait until such time as they qualify for it. Let's leave 1059 as the gods delivered it from on high and all of it's perfection and not monkey with it. I urge you to reconsider the adoption of Section 3 of the Lamb amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Senator Beutler.
SENATOR BEUTLER: Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature, I didn't vote for the Lindsay amendment basically because I simply cannot comprehend, on the face of the language of the amendment, what it's effect would be, and the last time I voted for an amendment on the assurances of individuals who probably, I thought, knew the actual facts of the hold harmless provision, for example, turned out to involve a lot more money and had a different effect than what I had been told. Now I don't know who originally was involved in the hold harmless and the additional enrollment suggestions. I had understood that they went together. If we don't want to do this thing, let's back the whole thing out, just back the whole thing out, back out the hold harmless, back out part three of the amendment, if that's what Senator Withem wants to do, and let's go back to the position that I thought we were in before this all began, which was we won't make any changes to 1059 until all parties who have things to be considered can get together and work out some kind of negotiation that involves all the parties, involves the tier system concept. Now, I don't know if it's Om... if Omaha feels short-changed on this whole particular exchange. I don't think they should because the tier system concept, which is, I think, the most questionable of all the parts of the formula, has not
been called into question. Omaha continues to benefit from that. The committee did not want to consider that particular item this year and we have not run it as an amendment outside of the committee and that's fine. If I were in Omaha's position, I'm sure I would do the same thing, but I'm not sure that there's any basis for...for feeling badly about the whole arrangement, but if Senator Withem is successful in backing out part three of the Lamb amendment then I suppose it would be logical to go ahead and proceed and back out the Lamb amendment entirely. I hate to see us go around in circles though. I don't think that the Lamb amendment, as a whole, was an unreasonable proposition on the part of those who formulated it, who formulated that, although I was no'. a part of that, and so I would suggest that we hold a steady course and get through this bill and try to get, on to some of the other bills we have. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Beutler. Senator Schimek.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: Yes, Mr. President, members of the body, I rise in opposition to the Withem amendment, although I agree with the Withem arguments, and I guess what I would rather, Senator Withem, was that we would reconsider the vote that we just took. I happened to vote for the third portion of the Lamb amendment this morning, as well as the other portions. I also voted in favor of the Lindsay amendment and I guess I feel if you thought that the hold harmless and the idea of the growth districts getting immediate help this morning, that you should think so this afternoon. After all, we're talking about Omaha here. It is a growth district and what this amendment does, as far as I can tell, is holds them harmless from the amendments that we did this morning. Senator Beutler, I couldn't agree with you more that it would be nice if we could all sit down and work out some of the problems that some of us perceive, at least, with 1059, but, frankly, it's been two years and I don't see it happening. I don't see anybody willing to move on the tier system. I don't see anybody, but Lincoln, concerned about it, so I guess I'm willing to look at it piecemeal if we have to, if we can't do it any other way. I guess, with that, I would just suggest that you vote against this reconsideration motion and perhaps vote in favor of a reconsideration motion on the Lindsay amendment. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Schimek. Senator Lindsay.
SENATOR LINDSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members. I rise and echo what Senator Withem and too, for the most part, what Senator Schimek have said and that is in when I closed on my amendment all I asked for was consistency. I was just going through the votes here and that consistency isn't there. We seem to want to protect rapid growth districts this morning, but we don't this afternoon. I'm wondering where we're going to go on Final Reading. We just don't...we don't want to seem to maintain that and that's all that was being done by the amendment this afternoon, was simply to protect high growth districts from actually losing money. It was not an amendment that came in and said this is a high growth district just like the other ones that are being affected and so we want more money too. We were just asking not to be losing money because those other districts are gaining money. But that's not the path we've chosen to take. Because of that, I'll be voting for the reconsideration.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Lindsay. Senator Lamb.
SENATOR LAMB: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members. I really apologize for the length of time this has taken. I have tried to let everybody know what I was trying to do here all the way along, int?? Senator Withem. Anybody that had any interest that I thought any school problem, I told them what I was trying to do. Now at the last moment we have a roadblock just because we don't understand what's going on. See, I don't understand how Omaha Public Schools can lose money if they are a rapid growth district and I don't think other people can either. If they're a rapid growth district, it seems to me they get more money from that. If they're over the I percent and 25 students, they get more money. Now they tell me that Omaha puts in more money than it gets out. I don't understand how that works. I don't know why we can't pass this bill, advance the bill and then put it on another bill. There's another school bill coming up. We'd have time enough in between here to work this out because there's a lot of misunderstanding. All the way along I have checked with Senator Withem on every one thing that I've put on this bill or tried to put on the bill and got his approval. Now that we come up with an amendment that he likes and did not get on there we're going to scuttle the whole bill. That's what we're doing. I don't think that's fair. I don't think that's fair at this point of the debate and I wish that we could find a way here to advance the bill and there's another bill, I think it's, what is it, 1010 or 1001 that is school
related. It's going to be coming up. We could work it out in-between time, save time on the floor and do it that way. I guess I would ask Senator Withem to withdraw his amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Lamb. Senator Schrock.
SENATOR SCHROCK: Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature, I, too, feel bad about this situation. It seems to me like when a school district has about a 20 percent growth increase our state formula ought to reflect that sooner than two years down the road. I did vote for the Lindsay amendment. Would argue that a 1 percent increase is not as drastic to a school district that size as a 20 percent increase to a school system the size of Lexington, but I understand his concerns. I think we need to also remember this is not a one-year bill. This will be in effect next year and the year before (sic) and the districts that increase in size will benefit, the ones that don't won't and that's the way it should be. So I feel bad Senator Lindsay's amendment didn't pass, but to jeopardize the whole bill because of that seems to me an irrational thing to do at this time and so I ... I'm very frustrated at this time as to what's going on.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Robinson, you're next. Senator Wesely.
SENATOR WESELY: All I'm going to say is I haven't said a word on the bill. We've had one piece of legislation before us all day. We've got the rest of today and tomorrow to deal with legislation. I don't want to sound like Bud Robinson did yesterday, but for all of us that haven't been involved in this issue too much it's a little frustrating to take continually more and more time on it. I hope we can somehow lower our voices, resolve the differences and move on because there's so much needing our attention and only so much time left. I hope we can resolve this soon.
SENATOR CONWAY PRESIDING
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Wesely. Mr. Clerk. Senator Pirsch, please.
SENATOR PIRSCH: Mr. Chairman, members of the Legislature, I also have not spoken on these issues, though I definitely have opinions on them, and when I hear Senator Lamb talk about, well, let's dump this or argue this on another bill, which happens to
be my priority bill, I get a little bit testy too. I have said from the beginning that LB 1059 was a bad bill and I still believe that and we're still suffering from the consequences of it. I don't think it's gotten better with the two amendments that have been put on it and I don't think it's fair that we extend hold harmless to some and not to everyone. We had our chance to do that with the Lindsay amendment and I think that would have settled the issue. What's fair for one is fair for all, and if we're going to extend the hold harmless for some then I think that we also ought to hold harmless all. I will be voting for the reconsider motion and I'm sorry that it had to come to that because I think it could have been settled quite simply by just adopting the Lindsay amendment.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Pirsch. Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: I would temporarily set aside my reconsideration motion. I understand there is one for the purpose of reconsidering the Lindsay amendment and I would let that go ahead of this one if I could temporarily withdraw this motion.
SENATOR CONWAY: It is withdrawn. Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: Mr. President, a priority motion by Senator Baack, we would reconsider the vote on the Lindsay amendment.
SENATOR CONWAY: Senator Baack.
SENATOR. BAACK: Yes, Mr. Chairman and colleagues, I did file this reconsideration motion in the essence of making the process work a little better more than anything, plus it is a... I think it is a fairness issue and, as I reflected upon my vote on the Lindsay amendment, it probably was very inconsistent. And I think that what we need to do to provide for the kind of consistency that we have been working on today with the rapid growth amendment this morning, I think to be consistent we probably do need the Lindsay amendment and so I am asking you to reconsider the Lindsay amendment now and have that amendment back before us so we can revote on that. Thank you.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Baack. The lights that have come on begin with Senator Robinson. fie waives off. Senator Baack, would you...pass for now? Senator Schimek then.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: Yes, Mr. President, members of the body, thank you. I'll be brief. I would have filed this motion if I hadn't have been on the prevailing side. I think it's where the reconsideration motion truly belongs and I would echo what Senator Baack said and urge your support of this reconsideration motion.
SENATOR CONWAY: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, members, we're in a calm down tempers mood and I may change that just a little bit because I want to say I resent Senator Wesely's statement. Senator Wesely is a senator who, every year at this time, begs to have his bills put on the agenda and I resent him criticizing the time we've taken on this bill. This is a bill that members of the body, frankly, it's a bill that Senator Lamb is using for his priority bill. It's not one I'm putting forward. The measures that were brought forward today may trouble him to have to spend his time on them, but there are members of the body that consider them important. I resent that statement. I support the reconsideration motion. Conceptually... first of all, I understand the frustration of members of the body. This is a complicated issue. It's one I didn't understand when I saw the Lindsay amendment written out in longhand, but I think I ended up understanding it and what it is doing is dealing with not... it's not a hold harmless for everybody, it's not a hold harmless in perpetuity, it's not saying you can't get any less money next year than you received this last year, it's saying that when you do the rapid student growth, if there is a district, and there's one I know of, Omaha Public Schools, that qualifies, that qualifies, that has the growth, that had as many new students as came into the schools in Lincoln, it had as many new students, yet the way the formula operates it gets less money. Why is that? I drew... I literally drew a picture earlier for Senator Lamb. He says he still doesn't understand it, so mentally I'm going to try to draw a picture for you here on the floor now. That picture is you take the totality of state aid that would have otherwise been distributed to school districts. The Schrock motion, the Lamb motion takes a portion of that state aid out and distributes it under a different mechanism by giving school districts with rapid growth more money, gets it to them rapidly. To get that pot of money that goes to Lexington ?? to Lincoln, goes to Papillion, goes to Millard, has ... me from someplace. Where does it come from? It comes from this big pot. Omaha Public Schools
contributes to that money that goes into that pot for rapid student growth. It contributes to that and, just for purposes of illustration only, because I'm making up the numbers, I don't know what the numbers are, let's assume to make up that-big pot Omaha Public Schools has to contribute a million dollars, so that pot then is created. It's then distributed to school districts that have 1 percent more growth by adding in those students earlier into their needs calculation. Omaha Public Schools gets a share of that money and, again, for purposes of growth... of illustration, let's assume they only get $700,000 back. They lose $300,000. What the Lindsay amendment says, and this is a problem we have with hastily drafted amendments, we have to interpret them, but what it says to me is that school district, Omaha Public Schools, that is qualified for the growth factor can't lose anything. They get what they otherwise would have received. So you'd run a calculation to see what they would otherwise have gotten. You run a calculation to see what they get as a result of this new rapid student growth and you compare those two and they get the larger of the two numbers, what they would have otherwise gotten or what they get...
SENATOR CONWAY: One minute.
SENATOR WITHEM: ..as a result of this new... this new student growth, and then I assume what you have to do then is go back and rerun the formula of that $300,000 out of it that's held harmless back for Omaha and for the other districts. It's is a fairness issue. It's saying if you're going to grow, we're not going to penalize you for growing. If we're going to reward some districts for growing, we're at least not going to penalize some for growing. I think it's a fair issue and I'd urge you to vote for the reconsideration.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Withem. Senator Hall. Do I see five hands? I do. The question is, shall debate cease? Mr. Clerk.
ASSISTANT CLERK: 30 ayes, 0 nays to cease debate, Mr. President.
SENATOR CONWAY: Debate is ceased. Senator Baack for closing.
SENATOR BAACK: Yes, Mr. Chairman and colleagues, I offer this motion for two reasons. One of them is to facilitate the process. We seem to be really bogged down here on this bill.
The other is I think it is a fairness issue and I think in order for us to be consistent and, as Senator Chambers told me, he said consistency isn't always what we do in here, and he's certainly right In that, but I think in this case we have talked about the growth districts this morning and we adopted an amendment that would allow them to receive their monies a little earlier, the rapid growth districts. I think it is only fair now that we say that districts that are growing should not lose money and I think that, with that, I would ask you to reconsider the vote of the Lindsay amendment. Thank you.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Baack. Question is the reconsideration of the Withem (sic) amendment to LB 719. All in favor vote aye, opposed vote nay. Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 29 ayes, 2 nays, Mr. President, on the motion to reconsider.
SENATOR CONWAY: The motion is set for reconsideration. we're back to the Lindsay amendment. I assume Senator Lindsay. (Senator Lindsay's amendment FA385 in found on page 2097 of the Legislative Journal.)
SENATOR LINDSAY: Thank you, Mr. Chair, members. I apologize to the body for running a floor amendment like that that's written out in ... on one of the yellow sheets and passed around but, frankly, I've spent...the time we've spent on this today just trying to figure out what in the heck's going on, because I don't know how the school aid formulas work, I don't know much about what effect different things will have. And it took, from listening... from listening to Senator Robinson, listening to Senator Haberman, listening to some people that... and, frankly, looking at the figures that got around that what exactly the effect is. When we started looking at how it's going to affect OPS, and that's what every one of us does is looks how it's going to affect the school districts in our district, when we looked at that I want to see why Omaha is going to be affected like that, and that's when we got the numbers on the growth and I found out then that we were a high growth district. I was not aware of that. And that's the reason for coming in with the floor amendment like that and, again, like to say I apologize that it caused this kind of problem. Bottom line is that the amendment is intended to just be 'consistent with the theory of if we're going to protect high growth districts, let's protect high growth districts. If we're not, then let's not do it. And
what this amendment does is simply says, for those high growth districts, that they may not... some of them may not be getting additional money. I think Senator Withem explained it very well in just how that comes about. They may not be getting additional money, but they shouldn't have to lose money when they're growing as much or move than many of the other districts that are getting additional funds. With that, I agree. I think it is a question of, are we going to treat all the high growth districts with the same rationale? I suggest we should. I would urge the adoption of the amendment.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Lindsay. Senator Robinson, your light's on.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. Speaker, members of the body, you know, I thought Senator Withem really got struck with some lightening there and really got-on the right track there for awhile and then he veered. You know, I guess it's just like the tax situation. When we start giving breaks to someone we're in trouble. We're in trouble. Give the hold harmless, then there's a whole bunch of schools that are mad because they're not getting that. Then we come in to the student growth and we got people mad because we're not doing that. We developed a program. Why don't we stick with it? Ah, we probably never will stick with it. I'll support this amendment. It's going to cost all of my school districts some money. No such a thing as equity in thin thing, but it's funny when you're making money how you can change things. Thank you.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Robinson. Senator Moore.
SENATOR MOORE: Well, Mr. President and members, I don't fault Senator Withem for his anger. I think he's probably right that I don't know how you can vote for the amendment earlier today and then vote against the Withem amendment, so for... Senator Baack's correct too, it's for consistence sake you probably need both of them but I guess that's the problem I have come in. I don't think two wrongs make a right on this issue. I would still rise to oppose the Lindsay amendment. I guess I'm of the opinion we ought to kill the whole bill, myself, but everybody, you're going to do one wrong, you have to do them both and so You Might as Well Adopt the Lindsay amendment, but I think the body ought to seriously consider deep-sixing the whole bill.
SENATOR CONWAY: Senator Moore. Senator Hall.
SENATOR HALL: Question.
SENATOR CONWAY: Question is called. Do I see five hands? I do. The question, is shall debate cease? Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 28 ayes, 0 nays to cease debate. Mr. President.
SENATOR CONWAY: Debate is ceased. Senator Lindsay, would you like to close?
SENATOR LINDSAY: I would simply move the adoption of the amendment.
SENATOR CONWAY: The motion is the adoption of the Lindsay amendment to LB 719. All in favor vote aye, opposed vote nay. Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 27 ayes, 6 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Lindsay's amendment.
SENATOR CONWAY: The Lindsay amendment is adopted.
CLERK: Mr. President, the next amendment I have to the bill is by Senator Ashford. (Senator Ashford's amendment AM4270 is found on pages 2099-2101 of the Legislative Journal.)
SENATOR CONWAY: Senator Ashford.
SENATOR ASHFORD: Thank you, Mr. President and members. Very, hopefully, very briefly, this amendment I'm going to run now and, hopefully, get a vote up or down on it and then that will be it. This is 1272, which is the $1.7 million cut in state aid for the wards of the court program and it's been debated twice on the floor. I don't know how much additional debate there needs to be. The last time this came up, the teacher's pay bill was put on it and it didn't... there was no opportunity for a debate on the merits of this other than to discuss it generally and then go to the teacher pay bill, so what I'm doing is, obviously, this cut is needed. It's the only program, programmatic cut that is in the budget that's available to be voted on. We know that it's going to be ... we're going to be in a critical stage next year and we're going to have veto overrides to deal with this year and, if we want to hold to a three...to our ... certainly to the Governor's numbers and
not... and at least make it $1.7 million easier next year, I think this is a program that has, as I argued earlier, has well" well gone beyond its original purpose, a $45,000 program that's run amuck, and certainly with the ... the other major point I would make now and then let it ... the debate go on, if there is any substantial debate, would just be to say that this program was implemented before 1059, before the incredible infusion of state aid into the system. Most districts that receive equalization aid will be able to make up any loss, if any, that they get in this program. As I've said before and as others have said on this floor, early childhood education, domestic violence and other programs that are in the budget we have felt all along during the appropriations process need this protection and, even more than that, next year as we look at the absolute necessity of budget cuts, I think this is an opportunity for the body to send a message that the cuts should start now and, with that, I would urge the adoption of this amendment.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Ashford. First speaker is Senator Schrock.
SENATOR SCHROCK: Mr. Chairman, members of the Legislature, here again we have a fairness issue. We have school districts educating foster care children that they haven't asked to educate. A lot of times those children are special ed students. They're students that move in and out. They can be more of a disciplinary problem than other students. I don't think Senator Ashford's amendment is a fair amendment. I think the schools that are asked or required to educate these foster care children, and a lot of time these foster care homes lie in clusters and if you're in Overton, Nebraska, and you've got five foster care children in your district and the state is not going to reimburse you for educating them, that's a burden. That's a tough burden. So I would rise to oppose the Ashford amendment and ask the body to do likewise.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Schrock. I will recognize Senator Haberman
SENATOR HABERMAN: Mr. President, members of the body, I would like to challenge the germaneness of this amendment. I don't think it has anything to do with LB 719. I'd like to have a ruling from the Chair.
SENATOR CONWAY: Senator Ashford, would you like to respond?
SENATOR ASHFORD: Just very briefly, thank you, Mr. President. This both... this is a Section 79 amendment and the amendment is in Section 79. It's a state aid issue. I think it would be germane.
SENATOR CONWAY: Senator Haberman and Senator Ashford, by virtue of the number of amendments, we'll stand at ease for a moment while we're checking what the bill totally consists of at this point.
SENATOR CONWAY: By virtue of the fact that we're dealing with Chapter 79, Article 4, with several different provisions included so, therefore, we will rule that it is germane. Senator Abboud, you're the next speaker.
SENATOR ABBOUD: Mr. President and colleagues, would Senator Ashford yield to a question?
SENATOR CONWAY: Senator Ashford.
SENATOR ABBOUD: Senator Ashford, you've brought this amendment back before the body and it had some problems because of the other bills that were attached with it. I realize that... that in a number of the bills that we've passed here there's a considerable amount of A bills that have been added on or that will be passed, hopefully, here that are on Select and Final in the closing clays of the session. Is it your intent by the passage of this amendment, the attachment of this amendment, that we would have a balanced budget?
SENATOR ASHFORD: Yes.
SENATOR ABBOUD: And, at the current time, is it your opinion that if we don't make this necessary change in the budget that it will not be balanced for the coming fiscal year?
SENATOR ASHFORD: It's going to be... it's very fluid. If we pass everything on the green sheet now, we would be about 4.5 million above the budgeted...above the 3 percent reserve.
SENATOR ABBOUD: Above the 3 percent reserve.
SENATOR ASHFORD: Which would be about 3.15, so we would be balanced but we would be just barely balanced, a little, just a little above the 3 percent reserve. The real question, we don't know what is going to be passed between now and the end of tomorrow, so it's a very fluid situation. We know we're going to have some, most likely, some veto overrides in some of those programs, so I can't tell you exactly. It's going to be close.
SENATOR ABBOUD: Thank you. Colleagues, I...my feeling is this. I don't have any bills that are before the body that have appropriations, but I know there are a number of you that do, and a number of those bills will be vetoed for financial purposes only. My concern is that there will be an occasional bill that will be overridden and it could result in the state not having a balanced budget, could result in the state having to be called...or our Legislature being called back into special session some time before next January to do that act of balancing the budget and make the necessary cuts somewhere down before January. And, for that reason, I view it as I know it's important to some individuals in this body and some school districts in this state, but we have an obligation to balance the budget and, for that reason, I'm going to be supporting the amendment onto LB 719. Thank you.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Abboud. Senator Robinson.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. Speaker, members of the body, as you know, Senator Ashford and I have been going around on this for, I don't know, several weeks and I know... I know the situation. A lot of people are out there that want A bills passed and there are a couple of them that I'd like passed. I make no bones about it. But let's focus on what the situation is. We are taking money away from schools that... in which the money is used to support foster care. I had a letter from Father Val Peter from Boys Town and I'd like to read this and, hopefully, you would listen. Boys Town operates. a treatment/foster care program in southeastern Nebraska. He goes on and says, it's very difficult to recruit foster parents to help us with the needed treatment for these children. Even after recruiting and training foster parents, additional reluctance of many school districts to provide the needed educational programs for these children happens with serious learning and behavioral problems. If school districts do not want to take these children, how much more reluctant will they be if educational funding is no longer available to them? So I think the situation gets down to this.
Do we want to take 1.4 to 7 million dollars, we can call it pork barrel if we want to, we can call it a lot of different things, we know the projects that are out there, has nothing to do with balancing the budget; has nothing to do with balancing the budget. One of the few stable places these young children have is the school setting. If you vote for this, you're going to make it unstable. If you think schools are going to provide better care for these young children, folks, you're flying in cloud nine, believe me. What happens if they leave the foster care home? They go to group homes, which is five times as expensive. Then what happens then? We send them out of the state. What do we spend now on young children we send out of the state? Around 5 to 6 million dollars. Send some, it costs us $500 a day. So really, in reality, if we don't do this, it's going to cost us more money. We might, in our minds on this day, we could probably rationalize that it isn't going to cost us more money, but it's going to down the line. It's going to have an effect on some children, the most fragile children in our society today, don't forget that, the most fragile children in our society today versus 1.4 to 7 million dollars, supposedly, that Senator Ashford says that's going to balance, this money's going to balance the budget. Let those projects stand out there by themselves. Sure there's going to be veto overrides. There's going to be vetoes. There's going to be a lot of red ink probably by the time we get finished tomorrow evening, but please don't take it out on the most fragile young people in our society today. I urge you to vote against the Ashford amendment. Thank you.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Robinson. Senator Lamb, you're next. Question is called. Do I see five hands? I see five hands. The question is, shall debate cease? All in favor vote aye, opposed vote nay. We're voting on ceasing debate. There's been a request for a call of the house. All in favor vote aye, opposed vote nay.
SENATOR ASHFORD: We'd take call-in votes as well.
SENATOR CONWAY: Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 18 ayes, 0 nays to go under call, Mr. President.
SENATOR. CONWAY: The house is tinder call. The house is under call. Will members please return to the chambers and record your presence. Senator Lamb, Senator Schellpeper, Senator
Schrock, Senator Landis, Hartnett, Hefner, Hillman, Johnson and Johnson, Beyer, Bohlke, will you please check in. Senator Landis. The house is under call. Will all members please report to the chamber and record your presence. The house is under call. Call-ins have been authorized.
CLERK: Senator Morrissey voting yes. Senator Schellpeper voting yes. Senator Hartnett voting yes. Senator Peterson voting yes. Senator Landis voting yes.
SENATOR CONWAY: Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 25 ayes, 4 nays to cease debate, Mr. President.
SENATOR CONWAY: Debate is ceased. Senator Ashford, would you like to close?
SENATOR ASHFORD: Thank you, Mr. President and members. Id like to also give Senator Moore a little time at the end of this, my closing. This is very difficult, obviously, to try to convince 48 other people that we need to bite the bullet and do some budget cutting, and it's a lot easier to not do that. It's * lot easier to just suggest that, well, we've got a little over * 3.1 reserve and we can balance at that amount and we'll come back next year and we'll worry about it and by that time the economy's going to go back into overdrive and we're going to have all the money we need to pay for Medicaid and we're not going to have to tax anybody else, and it's an easy decision to do it that way. And, Senator Robinson, it's very difficult to talk about cutting programs that may have some impact on a program, such as foster care, but I'd like to remind the body about a couple of points. One, look prior to this debate and, when we talked about this bill before, I handed out a list of the cuts and how they would affect each district and the amounts are very, very minimal. This $1.7 million is spread out across the state to various districts. This is a 5, over a 5 million dollar program. The program is not going to go away. Also, Senator Robinson, in response to your point about school districts not taking the children, the bill or the amendment requires that these children be considered residents of the school districts that they...where they live as foster children. The school districts are going to be required to take them and they're going to take them and the red herring evidence that you're hearing about school districts, all sorts of horrors being cast upon foster children because they're foster children
just isn't accurate and it isn't going to happen. And these school districts, especially the school districts that get equalization aid are going to be making up and that's, obviously, most of them, and they're going to be making up all of this, most of this cut anyway. When we make a decision in this body next year about what we are going to be cutting we're going to have to make some very difficult choices. We're going to have to determine whether or not a program still fulfills its original public policy purpose. This, the original public policy purpose behind this bill was to provide impact aid for group homes. Not one dime or one nickel of money is going to be taken out of this program that is allocated for group homes and it shouldn't be and it's not going to be. We also have to decide whether or not a dollar spent on a program is getting a dollar in return and I would suggest to you that this program does not return the kind of dollars in savings or in output that a program of this magnitude should receive. And, thirdly, after we've looked at all of the potential criteria that we want to use in balancing whether or not we're going to have to make a cut and this is the only issue before this body this year where we're really talking about cuts is. in your gut, is this a program worth $1.7 million? Is this program worth $5 million, or can they get along with 3.5 million, or 3.4? And I would suggest to you that they can do it very well and that the original intent of this program can be easily maintained, can be easily maintained. And as we look down the road to next year, if we. come out of this session without taking a hard look at any programs except to increase them, we're going to pay a heavy price next year when we have to start looking very hard at a lot more programs than this that have a lot more impact on a lot of people. And I'm a supporter of the foster care program. Foster care loses not one dime. The foster care program loses not one dime out of this cut. State aid has increased substantially in the last couple of years. This program is a pre-1059 program.
SENATOR CONWAY: One minute.
SENATOR ASHFORD: With that, I'd give Senator Moore my last few seconds. Thank you.
SENATOR CONWAY: Senator Moore.
SENATOR MOORE: Mr. President and members, oftentimes when you talk about budget reductions everybody says, well, it's better to have a specific reduction instead of an across-the-board
reduction and I think this particular amendment is one of those things where what we usually do is do the across-the-board reduction because we do not like-to get specific because that tends to offend some people at that point in time and we do not want to do it that way. It's one of those things last year when we at least cut back on the base to state agencies, we cut back across the board, we spared local governmental aid programs from that reduction. I think next year we will probably not have that luxury. This year I guess this is a specific cut that I think, as a policy, makes some sense, particularly given the light of the 230 million dollar increase in state aid under 1059. With that, I'd rise in support of Senator Ashford's amendment.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Moore. Question is the adoption of the Ashford amendment to LB 719. All in favor vote aye, opposed vote nay.
SENATOR ASHFORD: May I have a roll call vote in regular order, please, and check in first and then a roll call vote.
SENATOR-CONWAY: Will all members please check in. All members, please check in. Senator Wickersham, Senator Rod Johnson, would you please check in. Proceed, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: (Roll call vote taken. See pages 2101-02 of the Legislative Journal.) 24 ayes, 20 nays.
SENATOR CONWAY: The amendment is not adopted. Mr. Clerk, anything else on the bill?
CLERK: Mr. President, the next motion I have is by Senator Moore. That would be to indefinitely postpone the bill. Senator Withem could lay the bill over.
SENATOR CONWAY: Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: No. No, we'll take it up. We'll take it up, Howard. Don't-worry. We'll take it up.
SENATOR CONWAY: The call is raised. Senator Moore.
SENATOR MOORE: Well, as I stated before, I have a good deal of concern about some of the things you've done in the formula of 1059 and I sit here and don't... in Senator Withem's words, that
that formula was handed down upon high and we should not change it, I just don't think we've given a whole lot of thought to the changes we've made on it. It's one of those things that if you do hold harmless, you do rapid growth, to get rapid growth you do the Omaha amendment, I just think it's a path that I, personally, am concerned about. I think in the long term it's going to cause some more long term damage to the formula but in the sake of time, given the amount of time we've debated this bill, I will withdraw my motion and just simply not vote to advance the bill.
SENATOR CONWAY: It is withdrawn. Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: I have nothing further on the bill, Mr. President.
SENATOR CONWAY: We are back to the bill. There are several lights on. Senator Moore, your light is still on. Senator Coordsen. Senator Nelson, please. Senator Cudaback. Senator Elmer. Senator Schrock. There are no further lights. Senator Withem, would you like to close on the bill?
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes, I would. I would like to close by saying that I'm a little concerned that one amendment I filed did not get taken up. I didn't press it, but I did file an amendment to scratch the name Withem and insert the name Lamb on this as the introducer of this bill. It wasn't taken up, but this really is my...this was introduced a year ago as the school affiliation cleanup bill. Last year it was amended. Senator Lamb's personal priority bill dealing with scenic rivers came into it. At that time, we probably should have shifted chief' sponsors of it so it's really Senator Lamb's bill and I would yield the rest of the closing time, if he needs any, to close on the bill.
SENATOR CONWAY: Senator Lamb, you have four minutes.
SENATOR LAMB: Thank you, Mr. President and members. appreciate Senator Withem letting me use his bill like he has and it would not offend me a bit if he wants to take his name off and put mine on there, but let me just briefly go through what is in the bill right now, five things, five things, if I haven't missed any and I don't think I have. Number one is the two-year hold harmless. This is my priority bill which we passed over yesterday because I used this bill. Number two, Class I and Class II school districts will be able to change their boundaries on the same basis that Class Ills can now do
it in other words, the school boards with 65 percent can vote to change their boundaries so both boards have to agree. Number three, the growth districts get their money when they need it. They get it a year earlier. I can defend and, by the way, let me say I can defend everything that's in the bill right now. The growth districts get their money a year early and I took that as part of my amendment because I thought it was fair. It doesn't make any sense to me to give somebody that's starving some food the year after they die. That's stretching it a little bit but, nevertheless, it's almost the situation. Why not give them the money when they need it? Then Senator Lynch had the amendment on there which if the Court of Industrial Relations tells the school district they have to increase salaries then it gives them that authority under the lid. Then we have Senator Lindsay's amendment which, in essence, says that growth districts don't lose when they quality for growth. I've had a lot of trouble understanding why any growth district, when they qualify for this extra money because of growth, would actually lose. I think I'm beginning to understand it. I think in Omaha's case, under the quirks of the formula, it's because they're such it large district. So when you take money from this whole pool to fund the growth, Omaha contributes a lot of money because they're so big. And so even though they got money for growth, they don't get as much as they contribute and it's primarily, I believe completely, because they're so much larger than the other district. Those are the five things that are in the bill. I hope you would vote to advance the bill and I would ask for a voice vote. No, I guess I won't do that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SENATOR CONWAY: Thank you, Senator Lamb. Question is the advancement of LB 719. All in favor vote aye, opposed vote nay. Has everyone voted? Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 34 ayes, 4 nays, Mr. President, on the advancement of LB 719.
SPEAKER BAACK PRESIDING
SPEAKER BAACK: LB 719 advances. We are now going to go to the bills that I mentioned earlier as far as bills that were clean that are on Select File to try to move some bills across to move those up to bill drafters office. First we have LB 542.