Debate Transcripts

LB 742 (1995)

Select File

May 22, 1995


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Mr. Clerk.  LB 742.


CLERK:  Madam President, 742 on Select File.  It has been discussed at this stage of debate.  Senator Bohlke had amendments that were adopted.  Actually, Senator McKenzie had offered AM2114.  That is found on page 2126 of the Journal.  Senator Bohlke had amendments to that.  I believe...  I believe




now, Senator, I have AM ...  Senators Bromm and Bohlke would move to amend.  AM2114.  Senator, I have your AM2415 in front of me.  (The Bromm and Bohlke amendment appears on page 2429 of the Legislative Journal.)


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Yes, thank you, Madam President.  We would like to substitute AM2415 if we could do that, please.


CLERK:  Senator, it is the next amendment, I believe, so...




CLERK:  ...  we're on...




CLERK:  Yes, air.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Chair recognizes Senator Bromm to open on the amendment.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay, thank you.  Madam President, and colleagues, Senator Bohlke and I have just filed 2415 which is being distributed to you right now, and it is virtually identical to the bill that...  or the amendment that was previously filed with the exception of one small change and that is that in the section dealing with waivers we are ...  we are suggesting or saying that the waiver request must be handled to the extent practicable.  The State Board of Education shall grant or deny a waiver request at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the board, following receipt of the written waiver request.  And the purpose of that addition is simply to try to bring a sense of real promptness to dealing with those requests and make sure that everyone in the departments understand, and it's our intent that those be handled as expeditiously as possible.  Now, let me...  let me explain the amendment.  The change that the amendment makes to the status of the bill is that it retains or keeps in the level year with no increase in state appropriations for 1995-96.  Beyond that, beginning in, actually in '97-98, beginning in that year and every fiscal year thereafter the appropriations for special education can grow at




the rate of the growth in general education.  So what we're doing is basically this bill when it was ...  when it started out on General File retained or had a cap year, a level year in the bill and we're suggesting that we want to retain that.  With that, we have included a waiver process whereby any school can apply for a waiver of rules and regulations with the State Board of Education and we're asking that those waiver requests be handled promptly by the board.  Those waivers would be available for rules or regs that are waivable under state regulations.  They would not apply to any federal laws or federal rules and regulations, of course, because we wouldn't be able to waive those.  Given that brief description, I'm going much of my time have I used, Madam President?


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  You have seven minutes left.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay, I'm going to use a couple more minutes and let Senator Bohlke share the opening.  Very briefly, the thrust of this amendment is meant to instill once again in everyone the seriousness of the situation that we're in with our special education funding.  I think you will remember some of the information that was passed out on General File, and earlier on perhaps on Select File, special education is multiplying in a geometric fashion at a double digit rate.  It is going to eventually consume even more of the state funds than what it does now.  It has doubled in the last six years, special education funding.  At the rate of growth that we have now, without any action, it's projected to be 200 million by the year 2000.  For over ten years, we've been looking at the problem.  Then Governor Kerrey tried to address it in 1986 and found that it was complicated, difficult, very sensitive politically and there have been studies, there have been commissions but it really hasn't been addressed.  I want to impose the serious step that we're taking here because I think that is really the only way to bring people to the table and to take a serious look at all aspects, all aspects of the delivery of special education and do the most effective job that we can, give those kids the education that they so deserve, that qualify for special education, but we've got to have some...  some restraint on who we identify and use the monies that we have as prudently and as effectively as possible.  And I think this is a real opportunity for us to seize the chance to turn the direction on this program before it becomes such a heavy burden around our necks that people raise a hew and cry that we need to cut the program or do away with it and that kind of thing.  I will yield the rest of




May 22, 1995 -LB 742


my time to Senator Bohlke, if she would like to complete the opening.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke, you have four and a half minutes.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you.  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  This is, I think, a subject that we are all going to have to struggle with.  Certainly, since this was introduced into the Education Committee, our committee had many long hours of discussion and debate and I think all of us are trying to come to some determination of what we can do with special education costs and how we possibly start to put a halt to the growth.  Now, as we get into this and we're going to have people opposing it, we're going to have all of us that are interested having to pay close attention as to how the funding actually works and what we're talking about, and what we're talking about in the flat year.  We will try to do that for you so that we understand.  Certainly, part of the arguments that you have heard from people all along were that we...  I know I have heard from school districts, is that we could do a great deal if we had some more flexibility.  And so it was that intent that we put the waivers in this amendment..  Now you will hear that the waivers are going to accomplish very little.  What the people who have argued that did not realize, I don't think, or they told me they didn't, was that it also says for related services.  That opens up, and I think you'll ...  we'll later highlight to you what those services may be.  And so, as we get into the discussion, certainly up to this point, up to this amendment, I had not had my name on any part of the bill.  I traveled with the group to Santa Fe when we first heard about block grants.  I was somewhat concerned with that.  My option was to look at that over a longer period of time.  Other people wanted to bring it forward this session and put it in motion, so we have that part of the bill before us.  As you know, I did have an amendment that we adopted that allows different groups to bring other ideas forward, but they all are on getting ahold of the cost of special education.  We heard, starting ...  well, we heard it for many years, but last summer the Revenue Committee had hearings and said there were three things that are driving up the cost of state government most dramatically; that's Medicaid, welfare reform and special education.  But we will be hoping to point out to you some of those areas why those costs have skyrocketed and when that begins to happen in a program, when those costs begin to be runaway, when we continually ask and have tried to deal with




year after year after year of coming up with ways to reduce those costs, to no avail, that's when I believe that establishing a flat year forces people to do that.  I have talked to numbers of superintendents, numbers of people who work in the area of special education, who all say to me, we can do that.  These are not the people behind the glass.  These are the people who are out working in the field.  They're saying, yes, there's room to do many things in order to get these costs under control.  I think it's also important to realize that some of you may have heard from your school districts on a fax that they received.  That fax contained...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  information that was in -error.  I checked with the person who sent that fax out.  They said, yes, that was true.  That fax said that the flat year was not there when this came off General File.  The flat year was there when it came off General File.  School districts, since last July, since the introduction of this bill, through General File, all the way up until May 4th, should have known that the flat year was in.  May 4th was the first time the amendment was filed to take the flat year out.  That is past April 15th and so when school districts have said to me, well, it's past the date we can do anything about staff, why didn't they?  They could read the bill.  The flat year was in there and it was in there on April 15th, which is the date they paid very close attention to....




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  and, thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Senator Bernard-Stevens.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Thank you, Madam President.  Members...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Excuse me, Senator, before you do that, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Senator, pardon me, but just I ...  there was some confusion on my part up here and we do need to withdraw and substitute, Senator.  You had printed AM2173.  That should be




May 22, 199S LB 742


the first amendment we're on.  You will need to withdraw and ask unanimous consent to substitute that to offer 2415.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Mr. Clerk.  And that is what I intended to do and I wasn't quite sure what had happened, but I would so ask leave of the body and the Chair to do that.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  It is so ordered.  I need a unanimous request.  Senator Bernard-Stevens.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Reserving the right to object, if I can ask Senator Bromm.  This is simply the substitution of the amendment that's the exact same thing but with the waiver change?


SENATOR BROMM:  Yeah, the only change being the ...  asking the Department of Education to...


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  On the next meeting?




SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  With that explanation, I do not object.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  It is ...  seeing no objection, it is so ordered.  Senator Bernard-Stevens, to speak to the amendment.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Thank you.  And just so that I have the amendment...  I speak on the right amendment number, which number is that Mr., or Curt, or Mr. Clerk, the amendment number that we're on now?


CLERK:  Senator, you're on AM2415.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Thank you.  I rise in opposition to AM2415 for a lot of reasons, but I thought in the beginning what I tried to do before the interest of the body began to wane and the people wandered off and will come back whenever there's a vote to try to just very quickly look at the differences between' what the McKenzie/Bernard-Stevens amendment is and what this ,amendment does.  And, in essence, if you look at the first fiscal year that we're dealing with, '96-97, that, in essence, is where the difference would be.  The Bromm-Bohlke amendment, 2415, would have the flat cap with no growth; our amendment




would have the cap with the growth rate at 5 percent.  The second year, '97-98, the McKenzie/Bernard-Stevens amendment would have the previous fiscal year's appropriation with the general ed growth rate again at 5 percent and I'm not sure what percentage Senator Bromm and Bohlke have on their ...  on theirs, but they also would have the appropriation with general ed growth.  I believe that's correct, Senator Bohlke.  Is that not correct...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  ...  that you also have the growth rate in that second fiscal year?




SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Yes.  And then the third year is the same whether it be a new funding mechanism.  So the only real substantive difference will be...  the policy question will be is that first year, '96-97, do you wish to have the flat cap with a growth rate, and if so, what level?  Senator McKenzie has 5 percent in the amendment at this point.  Or do you -want the flat cap with no growth, education growth, with the ...  with the concept of the waiver?  I mean, that, in essence, will be the policy question.  So I wanted to.  try to frame that before we got into the more complexities of the issue.  If you...  if you imagine tightening down a screw, that's basically the differences, I think, between the McKenzie/Bernard-Stevens amendment and the Bromm-Bohlke amendment.  I don't think there's anyone out there, including those I've talked with in special education, that deny that we have got to get a handle on special ed costs, absolutely critical.  I'm not in objection to that, have no objection to that.  I strongly encourage that.  I don't think that anyone else involved in the issue objects to that.  The question is, how hard do you tighten the screw to find out that you've done ...  you've tightened it too much?  And it's a .philosophical question.  Senator Bohlke and Senator Bromm, I suspect, would say, and I'm not going to speak for them, but I'm going to give what I suspect they may...I'm learning, Senator Bohlke, I suspect they will say that there's a lot of waste out there and you never know how much is there until you really put the screws to it.  And then if there's too much, we can come back later.  My argument is a little bit different from that.  My argument is that, yes, there probably is a lot of waste out there in special education because we've just funded all of it




all of the time between the federal and the state.  My argument will be you don't know how much waste there will be out there and which school districts it will be in- Many school districts will be very, very efficient.  Some school districts will not be efficient.  So the McKenzie amendment, for the most part, tightens down that screw because it sends a strong message saying that we're going to cap it at the 122 million or so that the Appropriations Committee put it at.  That's it, that's a cap.  You're not going to get the increases you had before.  And, oh, by the way, the 10 percent growth in special education, you're not going to get that either.  You're only going to get a 5 percent growth.  And that's a real strong message that you send to people in special education in the school districts.  That's a very, very...




SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  ...strong message.  And the other message that the McKenzie/Bernard-Stevens amendment is that we'll continue that one more year as we begin to study which rules and regulations make a difference, which statutes need to be changed, which statutes need to be eliminated or modified.  And then we come back with an overall policy for the distribution of the monies and then in the third year there's the new funding which will have no growth in it, it's simply the new funding.  It tightens down the screw, the Bernard ...  the McKenzie/Bernard-Stevens amendment tightens down that screw, sends a strong message but has a reasonableness of giving time for everyone to work in because you're making some major changes on some children that have some very high needs.  The reason I opposed the Bromm-Bohlke amendment simply is it tightens that screw too tight.  The only way to know that a 12 million dollar hit on...




SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  ...  special education...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bernard-Stevens.  Senator Hartnett.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  Madam Chairman and members of the body, if I can ask Senator Bohlke or Senator Bromm a question.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.




SENATOR HARTNETT:  On line...  in your amendment here, on line 21, such waiver shall not apply to any requirements subject to federal law or federal rules or regulations..  How much difference, I guess, my question is, what is the difference what we have in our statutes that are beyond, you know, what's in the federal law?  That's the first question.  And it deals with this waiver.  How much money are we going ...  what do you ...  what do you envision we're going to save?  And what areas are you going to save that our, you know, that our Board of Education or school administration come in and say, you know, can you give me some examples and can you give me "dollar figures" of what they're going to save?  You know, are we just saying, trust me?  The two Bs, Bromm and Bohlke.  Trust the two Bs.  (Laughter.) Senator Bohlke, do you want to answer me?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Hartnett, first of all, obviously, we can't waive any statutes, any laws.  What we have here is Rule 51.  Everything in there we're saying could be waived.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  That's ...  that's not...  in 51 has no federal requirements.  Is that what you're saying?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, the areas that could be ...  this wouldn't have the federal, this does have state law in it but it also has in it all the areas that could be waived.  Besides that are the other thing that I said were the related services.  So we're talking related services really opens up, as we have been looking at it in the last couple of days, huge areas.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  (inaudible).


SENATOR BOHLKE:  It opens up care professionals, contracts possibly with Educational Service Units.  (Laughter.) I don't know why that came to mind.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  (Laughter.) With me.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Caseloads.  And I know that Senator Bromm has some information that we'll be getting to you on that, but that...  it really opens up transportation.  Obviously, you have to provide transportation for the student to the school but it waives ...  you could simply do it by giving mileage to a parent, not having to buy a special education van, numbers of things in those areas that could add up to significant dollars.  I would




say to you that those in the related areas would have a higher dollar amount and the education lobby did not understand when they met to oppose this nor never discussed the related services.  They thought that it was only Rule 51.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  So what you mean by related service, that would be transportation.  What do you mean by...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Regulations, really.  Related regulations.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  Related regulations.  Where do I find those related, in Rule 51?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  We have a listing here that we can...  that we can get you.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  Yeah, I would appreciate that.  I would appreciate that very much.  Also, if you go up to the Section 8, talks about multiply one plus rate not to exceed the allowable growth rate pursuant to Section 79-3816, what is ...  what is Section 79-3816, 1 guess?  Simply...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  These are all the statutes that talk about special education and transportation.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  That's ...  that's ...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The funding of those.






PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Hartnett.  Senator Avery.  Senator McKenzie.  Senator McKenzie.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Thank you, Madam President, and members of the body, I have to confess that sometimes it's not a good idea to have long weekends in between periods of discussion on pieces of legislation.  After our discussion Friday, Friday morning, about the A bill related to LB 742, 1 spent a great deal of time talking to the very people I suggested some of you talk to.  I had conversations with members of the Special Education Accountability Commission.  I had conversations with people who are in the field working with the verification process.  I had




conversations with individuals other than superintendents, regular education personnel and parents who I asked the most important question and that was, do you or do you not believe that we can find some significant savings or some significant areas in which to get serious about containing special education cost growth.  I'm passing out a couple of pieces of information for you.  The first is from the Revenue hearing sessions that we had, Revenue Committee sessions we had last summer on entitlement growth.  And those of you who attended remembered ...  would remember that we talked about the fact that three entitlements, the big three, were growing at a rate that was not ...  was going to eventually eat up all the rest of the state budget.  And I asked Tom Bergquist to break down those numbers for us so we could look at special education.  And if you have that sheet in front of you, you will see that since 1974 and '75, through the projection in the year 2004, we will have increased from $3.6 million to $299.6 million if we continue at the current rate of 10 percent growth.  The original legislation never had a flat cap.  The original legislation had language that allowed the Legislature to appropriate a set amount of money.  The cap came in when we talked about 5 percent.  Special education has not had a 10 percent cap or 10 percent anything.  That's the average rate of growth and some school districts will tell you that they have had a higher rate than that.  So in terms of your basic information, I wanted to share that with you and also draw your attention to the second page of the entitlement handout so you can see what will happen in the next ten years if we don't do something about the rate of growth.  Medicaid and public assistance are two areas where we have struggled.  Senator Chambers has always made it important for us to struggle when we talk about changing those areas, but I believe we have attempted to look at what we need to do in those two areas.  The other section is a piece of information from the Special Ed Accountability Commission that I had received about a month ago and had kind of forgotten about, but I have to say that it is the piece of information that changed my mind.  And I know, Senator Bernard-StevenB, my apologies to you for standing up and supporting the Bohlke-Bromm amendment, but it's this document that changed my mind, along with the arguments of a couple members of this commission who said, in fact, that we ought to have a lid with no waivers if we are truly serious about seeing where costs can be saved.  This program has never been asked to slow its spending, never been required to do any more than submit their reimbursement form and hope the things they put down were in categories.  Now three




May 22, 1995 742


points as to why I think that we can actually follow what was the original General File proposal.  The first finding on page 3 is that the growth, the most significant growth happened because of the numbers of students verified.




SENATOR McKENZIE:  One of the people that I talked to from the Special Ed Accountability Commission is a person who deals with verification and said the pressure is intense at the local level, at the school district, school building, to identify and verify kids, and in particular, this person works in an area with a number of minority students, minority students that we need to verify these kids because we can't deal with them in the classroom, and when they get a no, it's a ...  she said a postmortem, almost a wake.  We have to verify this child, and the pressure continues until they do.  Fifty percent of the spending, and this comes from special ed directors, is from that area alone, oververification is guaranteed when you have a reimbursement schedule like Nebraska.  The other argument is on page 5 and it talks about related services.  I will punch on my light so I can talk to you more about related services.






PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator McKenzie.  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Madam Chairman.  If ...  Senator McKenzie, if you wish to finish, you can have a couple of minutes of my time.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator McKenzie.


SENATOR BROMM:  Two minutes.




SENATOR BROMM:  As much as you want.  You are on a roll, take what you want.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  I will let you know when 2 1/2 minutes is up, Senator.




May 22, 1995 LB-742


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Thank you, Senator Bromm, and Madam President.  Please look at the top of page 4, if you have this handout in front of you.  According to the special ed directors who were interviewed, in addition to general enrollment increases, interviewees cited the verification criteria currently in Rule 51, the lack of services in regular education to meet students' special learning needs, the attitude and training of regular educators, state caseload requirements, specialized certification and staffing and enhancements in early education ...  early intervention programs as some of the reasons for the increased student numbers.  All of these things fall under the waivers.  That's the area that changed my mind.  if, in fact, we could not look at caseloads, if we couldn't look at verification criteria in a waiver process, then I would agree we could not do it.  But if we are going to be serious about looking for ways to reform and ways, you know, to get the 10 percent growth under control, I believe that we have in the amendment two things; number one, a first hard look at what can be changed at the local level, and, secondly, an opportunity, if, in fact, that can happen, to appropriate additional monies next year so that we do not force serious cuts in services to kids who need it, those kids that are the hard handicaps, the ones that we know cost a lot.  Senator Bromm, I will yield the remainder of your time back.  Thank you.


SENATOR BROMM:  Senator McKenzie, thank you for all that information.  It is very helpful in understanding I think some of the processes that we all had go through on this.  I am absolutely committed to providing services to the kids that need it and that deserve it, and as long as I'm here, I will fight to do that.  But I think that we have reached the point where you have to take a deep breath, you have to look at everything very, very hard.  We had contacts with a number of schools, of course, and when they got that fax that someone mentioned, the phone really started to ring because it was a pretty alarming fax that was sent out last Thursday night or so, and some of the superintendents' comments were we need to take away from the schools the excuse that the state made us do it.  Just eliminating that and putting in the opportunities for allowable waivers will help in some respects.  Another superintendent said, I agree that we need to revisit the regulations regarding identification of students, which is what Senator McKenzie was talking about, as I agree that we have some students that are receiving services that probably should not qualify for special ed.  All you have to do is look at the numbers in the speech,




area, the tremendous growth in the numbers that have been identified in the lower grades, and actually thousands of speech and language have been identified between the ages of 5 and 11, and then after they reach age 11, the number drops dramatically.  These numbers suggest, I think, that quite often the condition is not a handicap, to begin with, in some of those cases.  It may be a development problem, and it, may be a development problem that can be handled in regular education.  There is a lot of room for flexibility if we allow it.  The federal government, as they process...




SENATOR BROMM:  ...  their grant programs in the future, is also going to be looking at, at least they say they are, at waivers and looking at regulations that will be...  that will be made more ...  more broad or more flexible so that people don't have to fit every child into a certain slot, allow for some combined treatment by paraprofessionals and those that aren't quite so highly paid.  We have timewise I think...  I know it is going to put pressure on schools, but with some of those that- we have checked with, many of them are on contracts with ESUs, on a per day or per hour basis, and those contracts, if they don't need as much service, they are not locked into paying a fixed amount.  They will pay as they go, so to speak.  So I think that if they need less of the service in the ESU....




SENATOR BROMM:  ...  they will save some money this coming school year.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Wehrbein.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Madam Speaker and members of the body, I am going to support this, and I have gone through some soul-searching on doing this.  I realize it is not an easy thing to do.  In fact, I know some superintendents that are going to be uncomfortable with what I am doing, but I am taking...  I am ,wearing the hat of the Appropriations Chairman at this point.  As I look at it, we've done some things in Medicaid, and.  will continue to do so.  We have done some things in welfare and continue to do so.  We have more to do.  And it is time to work on this one too.  It is an issue that has been well described .here.  I am going to ask Senator Bohlke a question in a minute




or two, but it just seems to me it is an area that we've got to get a handle on, and I recognize, based on a few comments I've gotten, and some more I am anticipating to get, that it is not going to be easy on some school districts.  On the other hand, I have a sense that it varies by district year to year.  Some years have some latecomers come in, for example, and have to react to that, they are not prepared to do.  Others, I assume the problem goes away, quote, maybe not necessarily, but it is not as severe other years, so I am sure there are some cycles in this that each and every district is affected differently.  But from the State of Nebraska's standpoint, and our standpoint in the budget, we've got to get a handle on this, and I don't...  I don't know of another way to do it but to really put a hammer down, so to speak.  And I think I am willing to take that risk at this point to see where we are going.  I'd like to ask Senator Bohlke a question.  One of the questions, the amount will increase, based on the General Funds spending level, can you answer a little bit of that, what we have been doing, the area that we anticipate the growth rate?  In other words, I want a little more...  a little more expansion on the growth rate.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The growth rate will come in the year after the flat tax.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Yes, I understand.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  And so what people need to understand is that we will be sending to the Department of Education $122 million that will then be sent out to the individual districts.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  I understand that, and then two years from now, 197-98, on what basis will that expansion be based?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That would be-based on the $122 million,...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  plus the percentage growth.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  And would you expand a little bit on the percentage growth?  That's what I want to clarify probably for most...  I know some of the answer, but...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  We ...  we, well, it would be in the range from probably 4.5 to 6 percent.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  And that's whatever is based...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Whatever we determine.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  ...  on school budgets across the state that we allocate our increase in aid for?




SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Okay, so that will be an appropriations process too, and will that be...




SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  And that will be decided by the Appropriations Committee based on our best input of the gross rate and how it affects schools across the state, and we will make a very objective decision on that, is that the intent?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, unless ...  yes.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Okay, if you wanted to add more later on your time, feel free.  I wanted to be sure that I understood and everyone else understood in here.  I think we have to make some decisions.  Crunch time is now.  This is an area that we need to look at.  I support the amendment.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Wehrbein.  Senator Janssen.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Madam President, members of the body, I would really like to know and sit down and figure out exactly how far we are over the federal regulations.  If we are that far, what in the world have we been doing all this time?  You know, what are you going, you talk about Rule 51, what are we going ...  who is going to decide which rule and regulation we waive?  Who is going to sit down, is it going to be the same for every school, or are they going to pick and choose what school district?  You are in good shape in this school district so we...  I don't think we will waive this to you but we may waive your neighbors.  How in the world, is that going to be straight across the board?  There is a lot of questions to be answered here.  Maybe they will come out.  I hope they do.  And if you put...  if you put the




flat year in right away, stick it in there right away, someone is going to suffer.  We talk about property taxes.  Where in the world, what's the biggest part of your property taxes?  It's your schools.  Is that going to put a big strain on them?  I think it is.  Personally, I think it is..  I believe we need to leave that year in there with the Bernard-Stevens and McKenzie amendment, which was put in.  How are you going to decide which rule you waive?  I just, I think you are going to put enough pressure on the schools by leaving it the way it was.  They are going to see what is coming down the road.  They can get their house in order and I just think we are going to put a burden on them, that I'd certainly hate to be sitting on a school board.  I really would.  I sat there for about 18 years, I know what is happening.  Sure, there is a lot of fluff out there.  They have all got some fluff, but what about the good school that doesn't have any fluff?  What about the one that is running a good, a good department right now and trying to save all the dollars they can?  And as Senator Bromm said, all we hear is you get rid of the...get rid of the rules that we have to follow, and maybe we can do something about it.  I think that they are getting the message.  You are going to see these schools whip into shape.  But if you put the pressure on them right away, I don't like that.  I don't like what it is.  I just think there's ...  you talk about what's in here on Rule 51, special learning needs, the attitude and training of regular educators, state caseload requirements, very easy, but are you going to waive them?  I want to see some facts right out here now, and we are going to...  let's take them all out, start all over then, go back to the federal level, then add them in.  That makes a lot more sense to me.  So I am not going to be supporting your amendment, Senator Bromm and Senator Bohlke.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Robinson.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Madam President and members of the body, I'd like I think Senator Bohlke probably.  Senator Bohlke, who will do the waiving?


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Robinson, you would apply ...  there is an A bill that would give the money, extra money for the department to immediately put someone on staff to rec...  to work with the school districts on those waivers and, of course, then it would




have to be granted by the State Board of Education.  That is why we say where it's possible it would be the very next meeting.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Would it be a blanket waive, or an individual waiving, according to school district?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, I think it has to be individual because there are individual circumstances.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Yeah, yeah, okay.  Okay, this coming year, 19596, they get, Senator Bohlke, they will be getting theirs, and you can just nod if I am correct, they will be getting their ...  their regular appropriation, correct, 195 and '96?




SENATOR ROBINSON:  Okay, '96-97, that's the flat year according to your amendment and Senator Bromm's, right?




SENATOR ROBINSON:  And Senator Bernard-Stevens' is the 5 percent.  Okay, now the next year, is it the school growth or it's the 4.5 to 5 percent?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  It is that allowable growth rate that...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  we discussed earlier.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Now as far as property tax goes, that could be ...  that could be a lot more than 4.5 to 5, couldn't it?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The allowable growth rate?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, we set that.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  I know, but it is on budget though, it is not on property tax.






SENATOR ROBINSON:  It is on budget.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  So we could be talking ...  we could be talking about 7 or 8 percent increase, couldn't we?  Depending on what happens in the individual school district.  Okay, okay, I would like to switch to Senator McKenzie.  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator McKenzie.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Can you get more specific on some of these waivers?  Take three or four examples and relate them to money, if you can, if it is possible, three or four of the main waivers that you see.  You talk about the identification, for example, for one, I know.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Right.  Well, Senator Robinson, let me attempt to hypothesize...




SENATOR McKENZIE:  ...  which is about all we can do.  Let's talk about a student who might be referred for speech and language.  If, in fact, we waive the requirement to identify that child with a speech and language impairment before we could provide services, and currently they have to wear labels to get services...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  So they could...


SENATOR McKENZIE:  ...  if we could waive...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  So they could cut that number down?




SENATOR ROBINSON:  Okay, next question.  I was told this isn't a regulation, but I guess it is a rule where a teacher could have more students.  For example, you're in a school that has four or five, you might cut one student, or one teacher, have one teacher less by increasing the number of ...  the loads of the other teachers.  Now is that a rule or regulation, but I was told you could do that right now, is that right?




SENATOR McKENZIE:  Well, Senator Robinson, we have caseload requirements in Rule 51 for different handicapping conditions.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  So you could waive that...




SENATOR ROBINSON:  ...  and increase those?




SENATOR ROBINSON:  Okay.  Go ahead if you have some other to say.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  No, that's all right.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Do you have any other examples that you might ...  that might could be pretty good sized dollar amounts?


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Well, I think one of the areas that we could look at outside of the two we talked about would be on the way in which transportation requirements have been interpreted.  In many cases, school districts have provided transportation to students who needed ...  needed that transportation because of multiple handicaps, severe handicaps, but they have also made transportation, free transportation available to numbers of other students.




SENATOR McKENZIE:  And that's another area where we could look at waivers.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  I have had some letters from a couple of my administrators, and one said, well, you know, you could have a student, Senator McKenzie, you could have a student move in that could cost you 25 or 30 thousand dollars, what do you do in a situation like that?  You just ...  you just, if you don't have the money, you just take it out of property taxes?


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Senator Robinson, that is currently what schools do...






SENATOR McKENZIE:  ...  until the following year when they get reimbursement.  That is the system as it exists today.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Robinson.  Senator Bernard-Stevens, do you have a motion?


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Yeah, I would like to move to divide the question.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator, I have your request to divide the question.  Would you ...  and your request to divide Section 8 as one section, Section 11, and page 2, line 8 as the second section.  Would you please explain how it is that lines 9 and 10 on page 2 are a separate section.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  It is a totally different topic.  One is talking about the extent practical in what they will do at their next meeting.  The other one is talking about rules and regs if the process as set out by the department is followed.  I don't care if you combine the two together.  I just looked at that and it looked like two separate parts to the, ne, but in Section 15, if it is more reasonable to combine those two into one, that, I would have no objection to that.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Then it is so ordered, Senator, that we will divide the amendment, the Bromm amendment into three sections.  Section 8 will be one section.  Section 11 will be the second section, and Section 15 will be the third section.  Senator Bromm, which section would you like to take up first?


SENATOR BROMM:  Madam President, Section 8 first, and then followed by Section 11, if possible, and then the third section.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Maurstad, to speak to Section 8 of the Bromm amendment.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Thank you, Madam President, colleagues, I don't know that this will go specifically to Section 8, but I will just make a few comments, and then ask a question or two.  Earlier it was indicated that possibly we weren't receiving any feedback from administrators or those involved in the system or patrons, and I certainly have been receiving quite a bit of feedback the last few days from...  even from along the lines that




we were cutting the program, and that, obviously, is not the case as has been outlined by the debate so far.  But, secondly.  there is a great deal of concern relative to what we are doing, specifically with the Bohlke-Bromm amendments, so I think we need to proceed cautiously, and so I'll ...  maybe I will ask if Senator Bohlke would yield to a question.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  I think my main thrust probably deals more with Section 11 than Section 8, so I will just ask, Senator Bohlke, is it possible, and we are talking about aggregate funds going out to all the school districts, would it, in your estimation, be possible that you'd have a school district that, in fact, is spending more money than they need to, will be able to make some modifications and spend the same amount of money, not need to ...  not need to request any waivers, and just continue along as they.  have been unaffected, where another school district might be just the exact opposite?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, I believe that is true, Senator Maurstad.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Is there, in the effort that you've put into this particular subject, is there a way that we can deal with that inequity that develops when we look at the type of a funding program that the special ed program has been under historically?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, there are two things, Senator Maurstad.  One, this whole area is on the appropriation, not the individual district, which I know you realize.  Secondly, the person who will be at the Department of Ed to react to the waivers will be .able to look at that very situation.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  So then the waiver is the assurance that we are going to take care of those that do, in fact, have needs that will continue to rise legitimately, and yet those that have some room to adjust to this hammer, this amendment, and what we are doing relative to 754, or 742 will really leave those unaffected, won't it?  So we are not going to make those more efficient, are we?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's ...  that's why we have capped the appropriation and not the individual district, but if we make them more efficient or not, I think that we, indeed, would.




SENATOR MAURSTAD:  So then, and I want to make it clear, I don't...  I don't have...  I don't have a particular position developed yet on all of what's transpired on this, so I don't want my comments to be mistaken, but, in effect, then we are not ...  we are, along that line, we are mostly concerned about the dollars that we are spending as an aggregate and we are not really as concerned about whether we are meeting the needs of individual students across the state.  Is that an unfair characterization?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That would be an unfair characterization.




SENATOR MAURSTAD:  In what way would that be an unfair characterization?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Because we are concerned about the needs of the individual students across the state.  What this is saying is looking at how we serve those students and which students we serve.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Okay, and I accept that, and yet it seems to me that we could have some students in some school districts, because we are tightening down the process here, that could be adversely impacted by freezing the amount of spending.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Maurstad, the one area, the overidentification that we are talking about, we think is the area where school districts could really get ahold of the cost, and this overidentification we can show you are in areas that, and I will give you back some time if I need to, but certainly...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  are not in the areas of what we are talking with children who have demonstrated very high needs.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.  Thank you, Senators.  Senator Bernard-Stevens.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the body.  Senator McKenzie, that's okay.  I mean, I have been




here a long time and probably too long, I am getting grayer in the mustache as we go, and things just happen, and we all adapt, and I will adapt just fine.  We all do what we have to do.  I am going to speak on the bill in general.  On the first division it talks about the cap so that people know about the cap, and I do have a couple of questions just of how that ...  that cap is, and I will get to that in a minute.  But one of the concerns I have is this flippant, and I will use the word "flippant" because that is the only word that comes to my mind that adequately describes what I am hearing, regard to rules and regs and staffing, all of these things can be done, I don't buy any of that.  It is a crock, and I will give you an example.  We have senators saying, don't worry, they can attack the staffing.  Well, look at it, maybe I am reading the bill wrong, but the cap, the overall cap with no growth, that Senator Bromm and Bohlke want to do, it takes effect in '96-97.  Now we are always a year in arrears on special ed, so that means that if we are going to deal with staffing, we have got to deal with what the schools are doing in staffing now.  Now contracts, for the most part, will go out April 15th or so to staff people in the schools.  They will decide whether they are coming back or not.  They will be accepted by May 1st.  I am not sure, but I think this is May 22nd.  I am not sure, but by the time we get through our eight days, those school districts aren't going to know anything that is going to go on.  They will still hire the people because they don't know whether they should or not.  So don't tell me it is not going to affect staff people, it is going to affect staff people.  Don't tell me school districts are going to have a chance to respond to it, they are not going to have a chance to respond to it.  They will have to, if we do this, they will have to, and the results will be on our shoulders of what's going to.  happen.  There is no theory about...well, let me rephrase that.  The original theory that this bill, even as it was amendment, and one of the reasons I even supported that out of committee was the fact that at the time we were still going to send a message in cap, we weren't going to try to just do a sledgehammer, and just say no growth whatsoever, a point that even Senator McKenzie at the Education hearing said she didn't even support the bill as introduced.  We didn't want to do the sledgehammer.  What we wanted to do is to have a strong message, put a cap, allow a little growth, and in the meantime, what was going to happen?  In the meantime, you had four groups, the School Finance Committee, the Department of Education, the Education Committee, and some other group called the Special Education Task Force.  All of them were going to jointly work




May 22, 1995 LB 613, 742


together to find which rules and regulations would be the most significant ones to waive and/or modify, and which statutes of which the state has put on should be reviewed, eliminated, and modified.  And then when we got all of that, then we would come back to the Legislature with all of that information and the Legislature would be told here is what you can do, here is the process, and then later on you won't need any growth because we will have the flexibility after we've carefully looked at all of the ramifications.  What does this amendment do?  What this amendment does is say right now we are going to have any school districts that wish go to the Department of Education, ask for whatever they want to be waived, no rhyme nor reason, no policy decisions, each school district may do something different, and we are going to have four hundred different school districts doing different things, or whatever school districts have special ed will be doing different things for different reasons, all dealing with money, not policy.  Everyone will.  be making decisions on waivers, not on policy but on money because we are the ones that tightened that screw down, we gave them no other option, and don't fool ...




SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  ...  yourselves.  Was that one minute, or ...  thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute, Senator.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Don't fool yourselves.  Those school districts that overrun what is going to happen ...  what their costs are going to be, oh, yes, they can come back to the Legislature.  We can do something for them next year, but they are going to have to dip into that general fund dollar now during that school year.  That's the time they are going to have to find funds to do it.  Why?  Because we still mandate it, and the government of the United States still mandates it, and they will attack ...  they will get those dollars from that general fund with a lid that this Legislature is going to reduce their growth in LB 613, and they are going to be doing all of that at the same time that this Legislature is going to say, let's put a cap on levies.  And you want to do all of that to them, and you want to say, oh, by the way, we don't care, it's a flat, and there is no growth, no nothing, just do it, we think you can.








PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Bohlke, to speak to the first section of the Bromm amendment.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, thank you, Madam President, and I know that earlier Senator Warner had to be called away, and so he is back and I would like to give my time to Senator Warner.




SENATOR WARNER:  Mr. President, members ...  Madam President, members of the Legislature, I'd rise to support the amendment as well.  This has probably been one of the more difficult issues.  How many times we've had efforts to find some way to restrict the growth in cost and still provide adequate services.  You all know the story, it has been done time and time again, but I've arrived at the position on this issue and for this year that the amendment that is proposed is the right...  is the route that we need to go.  I, frankly, am of the opinion recognizing there is different circumstances in every district, and that's why you need some flexibility to handle the circumstances in every district as far as waivers are concerned, but I've reached the point where observing budgets over a long time that were growing exceedingly rapid, if it was at all possible, the only way you forced efficiency was to go flat for a year.  I don't recommend doing it for a long time, but it seems to me that the one way to really do the kinds of things everybody has talked about for a long time that could be done, ought to be done, should be done, will be done, in fact, with a flat cap.  I doubt seriously that there will be any student that is going to be, in fact, adversely affected.  I think what you are going to find out as a result of this is a far more cost-effective operation providing the same necessary services to those who require it, and in the long run end up with a better quality system, more effectively used, and I strongly support the proposed amendment.  I will return the balance of my time to Senator Bohlke.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, thank you, Madam President.  There have been some statements made in some areas, once again, that I think we need to clear up for people, and we talk about the impact on school districts and what may happen to them.  There




are some people who are assuming that if we adopt this that as children would move into the school district next year, next school year, that that school would have no way of getting part of the cost for that student.  What we need to realize is that we will be sending $122 million to the Department of Ed.  They will send that out.  Now they may not get the 90 percent that they have been receiving, but they certainly are going to be receiving funding, their portion of the $122 million.  The other thing that I think that we need to keep in mind as when I first had a school district call me and say we have this student moving in this year that we hadn't anticipated, and when I called and visited with the Department of Ed, they said, one thing we have to realize is that when students leave that school system, all right, and they aren't there, remember we fund a year in arrears, that they also get that money for the students who are no longer present in that school.  And so they will say they may use that to recoup costs, but I would say that they could use that also to make some adjustments certainly in a 'crisis situation.  And 1, as I said, if we look at the time line that I handed out here, and we are starting with the summer of...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  one minute.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  1994, last summer, and looking at how the bill read at what time and what amendments were filed, it is very clear that school districts had a clear direction that they should be doing and be planning as far as their staffing and what may or may not be present in a bill that they should have been following in the Legislature.  And so I think that is important to remember.  I also passed out, when I was traveling this weekend, I picked up the New York Times and found out that New York is facing very many of the very same problems that we are, and on that "passout" I have a box around one paragraph that says ...  and as you read through the whole article, it is just very parallel to Nebraska, same issues, almost same percentages, same problems.  Certainly the costs there and the numbers are higher.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Stuhr.


SENATOR STUHR:  Madam President and members of the Legislature, this is a very difficult area.  I have.  been meeting with superintendents, I have been meeting with parents, and much of this has been discussed already, but I felt in committee that we




were putting the cart before the horse, and I still feel that way, that we need to address those rules and regulations, although we keep talking about them, and I haven't been here before, I don't know how serious you were in your debate about really cutting the costs.  I do believe that we need to look at ways that we can cut the costs, but that child is still foremost, and the biggest concern in my mind.  I have some questions that I would like to address to Senator Bohlke.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR STUHR:  We keep ...  and this is just actually about the bill, some general ones, we talk about ...  and you just stated that the Department of Education would send out this portion; you know, we are going to cap this amount and then send it out to the schools.  How, I mean, what are they going to base their decisions on?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  It is reimbursement of allowable cost, as it has always been.


SENATOR STUHR:  Okay, also you stated that right now about 90 percent has been reimbursed.  Most of the schools I have been talking to have not ever received that amount.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  They do receive 90 percent of allowable costs.


SENATOR STUHR:  Okay, and then so then the other is picked up by the local districts.  Is that correct?




SENATOR STUHR:  The other costs.  If LB 613 passes, what effect will that have?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That could lower that growth rate, but that .would do that no matter if this amendment was adopted or we did Senator Bernard-Stevens'.


SENATOR STUHR:  So you mean...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The growth is in both.


SENATOR STUHR:  Okay, but, so the amount the local districts would receive will be less?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Right.  Well, if that would be adopted, but that, like I say, that would be no matter what amendment we do on this bill.


SENATOR STUHR:  Okay, what would you say are the highest costs involved in special education?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Stuhr, you could probably get ten different answers from ten different people.  I have...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  always said I believe it's in the verification process and who we now verify as special education as opposed to how that used to work, and if we look at the growth area, the really high need students, that hasn't changed that dramatically.  If we look at where the growth rate has been, it's been in staff and it has been in the area of where waive verified new categories, I guess I would say, for special education.


SENATOR STUHR:  Who verified those new categories, Senator Bohlke?  Did the Legislature, Department of Education?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That added the different categories?  Part of that came from federal government, part of that...


SENATOR STUHR:  So we're really not going to be able to address that area?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, we will, within that, within those areas, there are ways, there are certain students we could get a waiver on as far as who would be verified or not.


SENATOR STUHR:  Have we been using...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Like ...  oh, okay.


SENATOR STUHR:  Okay.  Have we been using waivers now?  I mean, has there been the possibility that schools could apply for waivers?






SENATOR BOHLKE:  We have had school districts asking for waivers, and looking into the possibility.


SENATOR STUHR:  Have any been granted?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  No, I don't believe so.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  But that's why we would put this in process, I mean, we would put a person in place to do that.  We have been hearing for a long time that that's what schools are looking for, and so that was the attempt here to assist them in that area.


SENATOR STUHR:  Why not ...  why not actually change the state regulations?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  State laws?


SENATOR STUHR:  I mean laws, yes.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, we would ...  we would have to bring a bill forward to do that.  We can waive regulations.  We can't waive state law.


SENATOR STUHR:  But that's what ...  yes, I understand that.  What I am saying is that we really did not get into this predicament overnight.  I mean, this has happened through a number of years, right?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Stuhr....




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  right.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator McKenzie.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Thank you, Madam President and members of the body, I wanted to address a couple of comments, and a couple of the questions that, concerns that people have had.  First of all, the federal ...  at the federal level, the IDEA act is also in the process of being reviewed, and I do have a copy of their preliminary recommendations and their concerns about what's




happened nationally with the original act for children with disabilities.  But the problem is not just about what we do when we verify, it is about the fact that in order to get any money in the State of Nebraska, you have to wear a label in special education.  And what I found interesting about carrying this bill was ten years ago when I was still in general education, we went through this huge reform effort in grouping children by ability.  Because of research related to special education and tracking that said children who got labeled for special education ended up in a classroom where that person had lower expectations and the teacher had lower expectations.  Everyone expected less of that child because of the label, and yet you can't get money in the state to provide services or to facilitate and help that child's learning process unless you get the label.  That's a lot of why we are driven by the need to verify, why we have for years attached money to the label that then went to the child.  Even the federal government is reexamining their position on whether or not you have to be labeled.  And the reason they did that was not to say you have ...  we have to say that you are a child with a handicap, but to be able to track which children were in which categories.  The second thing I want to argue is that the discussion 'about policy in Nebraska, because we've used this approach has been less about what has been good for kids than it has been about how we get extra money, and that extra money, in many case, has created a system that has absolutely nothing to do with general education.  We have a system over here that is there when I, as a teacher, can't handle this child because they have a behavior problem, because they have a very short attention span and they seem to be moving all the time and they are bored with my teaching technique, that by November of the year I go to the special education teacher and say, whew, we have got to do something about Johnnie over here, or about Sally.  They have got to have something to help them or to help me handle them in the classroom.  Those attitudes that we have developed over 20 years, I will say, unfortunately so, is also what drives...  are also what drives what has happened.  Two separate systems, I made this argument on General File; two separate systems, two systems that get funded in completely different ways, one, where we get X number of dollars through property tax, and, one, where we get 90 percent of what we spend, somewhere between 60 and 90, back from the state a year later, and we put in our 90...  our 10 percent.  Now if this is about policy and if this is about quality for children with some handicapping condition, then the argument has to also be about




whether or not we can bring these two systems closer together, whether or not we need to look at education in different ways, whether we need to find a way to bring that special education teacher into the classroom instead of seeing that room as a place we send kids who we can't handle anymore, because we know what happens when we do that to those kids.  Suddenly,...




SENATOR McKENZIE:  ...  everybody expects less.  Even the kids in the classroom will tell you that., I was shocked.  I had not heard from a single parent who didn't want their child labeled because I heard that all the time as an educator.  Finally, 1 had a call from a parent a couple of weeks ago who said we didn't want our child tested, we didn't want our child put in special education.  They have been there for five years.  They have suffered ridicule from other kids.  The teachers expect less from them.  We can't get them out even when we have asked.  Now that's the other part of the argument that I think we need to address.  Quite honestly, I've made my confession, and my very weak apology to Senator BernardStevens this evening, but I will tell you my interest, and the body can decide where we want to be on this lid or cap or 5 percent, I am only interested in reforming the system.  And I am convinced at this point it is not going to be an easy job, this is the easy part, the hard part will be everything that happens for the next year...




SENATOR McKENZIE:  ...  when we come back later to actually change the law, the rules and regulations, and the way in which we deliver those services.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator McKenzie.  Senator Hartnett, to speak to the first section of the Bromm amendment.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  Madam Chairman, members of the body, I just want to speak, not to one section, just speak.  (Laughter) Senator McKenzie.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator McKenzie.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  One of the things that you said, not this time but before, was oververification, that districts have oververified.  Okay, I am a school superintendent, and I want to




May 22, 199S LB 742


get ...  quote, "we are going to have a cap on the money and I want to have...  I want to get as much money for my district and so I just verify, you know, what you've just finished talking about, you know, I want to verify everybody." You know, I want to count, you know, around the room., What's going to stop me?  What's going to stop me?  If I can verify, you know, everybody, you know, I've got a school of, you know, how many numbers.  I have got 100 and I have got 75 that are some type of, you know, problems, you know, how do know, how do we deal with that problem?  You've identified it, you know, it's on page 3 of your handout, how do we stop that?  How do we stop school people from doing this overidentification which you say is a problem, you know?  Is there any, you know, does the State Department of Education have any control in doing this, or can I, simply as a school administrator, you know, keep doing the same things that you're, you know, that you're trying to do with your individual caps to do away with it?  And then ...  that's one question.  Second question is, you know, Senator Bohlke, maybe Senator Bohlke can answer this from one handout ...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  Well, no, I am not ...  I am just going to ask a bunch of questions, then people can respond to them.  Is the potential special education, innovative educational project area, this, the IDEA, you know, requirements, why don't we just do the first ...  why don't we do what's on the left side and then do the...  forget about the right side.  Why don't we just pass what is required by the federal government, and throw the rest of it away?  Then how about teachers, don't teachers have to be able to know it by ...  this year on contracts, if I remember right, by March something?  April 15th, and we are at May 22nd, that's past, you know, so teachers or school districts are, quote, you know, have already issued contracts.  So three questions, Senator McKenzie, if you could start first, and then Senator Bohlke, and maybe both of you can answer about the teachers.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Senator Hartnett, in stereo or individually?




SENATOR McKENZIE:  In stereo or individually?


SENATOR HARTNETT:  In stereo, yeah.  (Laughter) That would be








SENATOR HARTNETT:  You could date 17...


SENATOR McKENZIE:  We could do that.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  ...  we should have stereo at this time.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Senator Hartnett, let me answer your question about oververification, and, yes, there are things that can be done about oververification.  The only thing, currently, that limits you is the 10 percent or so that you have to pick up, plus the program you have to pay for this year and wait for your reimbursement for the next year.  So, you know, if you don't have enough money in your school budget or in your property tax amount that you put, you are not going to verify every child in the school unless you can afford to pay for the verification process and for whatever else you need in terms of staffing.  So with the caseload requirements in Rule 51, and our verification requirements in Rule 51, those things can limit how many kids you would verify.


SENATOR HARTNETT:  Are you thinking about tightening the verification process, is that you are, you know...


SENATOR McKENZIE:  That's one of the proposals, either tightening it or in a block grant approach where you allocate money up front to the school instead of reimbursing it, that you allow schools a little more flexibility...




SENATOR McKENZIE:  ...  in not having to verify children in order to provide the services.  Either way you can free up...


SENATOR HARTNETT:  How about the teachers?  We will skip ...  we will skip Senator Bohlke's question, how about the teachers?.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Teachers are...


SENATOR HARTNETT:  Are teachers under contract now for next year, and will they be...






SENATOR HARTNETT:  ...  will they ...  what if I don't have students, not as many verified and so forth, and I-am, you know, I'm a superintendent, again, do I have a surplus of teachers, what do I do with them?  Is that is that a do you see that as a


SENATOR McKENZIE:  If you have a


SENATOR HARTNETT:  ...  potential problem?


SENATOR McKENZIE:  If you have a surplus of teachers in special education,, more than your caseload,.  you would probably have looked at some other ways to address that anyway, but if you look at the accountability commission or the questionnaire of the special ed directors, you will see that they found ...  actually special ed directors confessed that in some cases they categorized kids in two levels of services in order to qualify for their caseloads.




SENATOR McKENZIE:  I can explain that later.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senators.  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Madam President, and, Senator Hartnett, I don't know if my comments are going to help answer your questions or not either, but, first of all, let me mention a couple of things about the staffing.  Some of the services that are provided are not provided by full-time contract people.  There are special people for evaluation purposes.  There are contracts with ESUs that are paid for on a daily basis or an hourly basis, depending upon how much time they need.  There is generally flexibility in those contracts.  Not everyone we are dealing with here is under a standard teacher contract.  Paraprofessionals, paraprofessionals can...  are not under necessarily that kind of a contract.  The other thing from a practical standpoint, in 1996-97, when they get the same amount of money as '95-96, they ...  that is a new year.  If we are worried about cash flow and property tax, the money coming in for 196-97 is in a year, a new budget year, and they, if they have the flexibility to make some adjustments a year from now or before April 15th of '96, they have the opportunity to do that




from a practical standpoint.  As Senator Bohlke pointed out earlier, if they have a severely handicapped student move out of the district at the end of this year, next year they don't have to fund paying for that student, but they are going to get the money from having taken care of that student this year.  So, you know, that is a unique system and that is a factor.  A couple of other examples that Senator Janssen asked for examples.  Rule 51 requires reevaluation periodically.  Now some students are handicapped to the point that there is little or no change in their condition.  Schools would like to not have to pay sums of money to call professionals together to reevaluate when they ...  when they know, the teacher knows, the parent knows, the school knows there has been no change.  That is a waiverable item that could be somewhat significant.  Rule 51 also contains a process which is referred to as a student assistance program, which is rarely used, and the Department of Education would say that they would like to see schools use this.  This is a program that could be implemented before they are identified as special ed students.  Once you get in the special ed system, you are into the federal merry-go-round, and you have all the regulations you have to comply with.  The student assistance program, which Rule 51 contemplates, and which some schools use, calls, if you have a learning disabled student or a mildly handicapped student, calls for them to have a team of existing teachers and parents get together and see if they can figure out how to help Susie or Johnnie without designating them in the process of identifying them as a handicapped student.  That ...  that process, the Department of Education, I think, has great potential but has not been used very significantly.  We had a call in our office from a shall school out by Colorado a few days- ago.  Their question was, and I suppose it happened because we were working with this bill, they had a student move in from Colorado, who was receiving special ed services in Colorado.  They put him in a regular classroom, the teacher worked with him, the student was doing fine.  The parents were happy with the progress, the student is doing well.  A service unit called the school, found out the student had come in, and said you have to have a contract on that student, and it will be $9,000 for the year.  The superintendent calls us and says is it true, we have to have this contract for $9,000?  We think we are getting along just fine.  The parents think we are doing fine.  We answered, no, you do not have to have that contract...






SENATOR BROMM:  ...  unless you go through the evaluation process and designate that student as a special ed student, and then if they need services, you have to furnish them somehow, and that contract may be one of the alternatives.  But that is the kind of somewhat misleading situations that are going on out there.  Those situations will be highly examined with the process that we are trying to put in place here, and, in the long run, I think, hopefully, this process will be good for delivering the services to the students that really deserve and need it.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Robinson.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Madam President, members of the body, Senator Bohlke, I have a question.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  If we have the flat year, what if a school doesn't ...  what if a student ...  what if a school increases their costs, say they increase it 4 or 5 percent, what do you do with the school?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  It is not on a school-by-school basis, Senator Robinson.  It is the whole system and then it is sent out.  That is what we keep saying, it is not on a school by school basis.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  So, in the end...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The school is not capped, the individual school.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Well, the money that flows out from the Department of Education...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  We are giving them the lump sum of money, right, and then they will send it out.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  So they would penalize that school if they went over their budget, probably?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, they would determine, as they...  a school that did that would actually be hurting every school that would be depending on those special education funds.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  I guess I have the same problem that Senator Hartnett has, and that's about if the year is '96-97 that is going to be flat, and if the teachers are in contract, it seems to me I know you said that they could let go paraeducators, but it seems to me that there is going to have to be some staff let go.  You are talking about ...  you are talking about $12 million, and I am not sure there's $12 million of...  I don't think you'd come close to the aides on that part.  It just seems to me that I could see it, and some of you...  I have been told, well, the Lincoln schools and the Omaha schools have cut their budgets already, but I don't think any of my schools have cut any ...  made any cuts, and at least they haven't told me that.  So that's ..that's my big concern about the flat thing, and the teachers have already been hired for that flat year, that is the big concern I have.  The waiver thing does appeal to me, I'll have to admit that.  Senator Hartnett, would you like any of my time?  Okay.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Withem.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Yes, Senator Bohlke and/or Bromm, I have some questions just in terms of the mechanics of this to make sure I understand it.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  First of all, the number $122 million, is being thrown around; $122 million, that represents the appropriation for the '95-96 fiscal year, is that correct?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's correct.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Okay, and that roughly then, if we assume that that means that is 90 percent of the excess cost, that means there were about $135 million of excess costs during the year?




SPEAKER WITHEM:  What happens if school districts bill the state indicating that they had, say, $150 million of excess costs, and we are capping that at 122 million, do we simply prorate every school district?  That is one of the concerns I had with your exchange with Senator Robinson.  How do we determine how much an individual school district gets?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  It would be the same reimbursable system that we do now, but the percentage would drop down.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  So it would just be...  if Senator Robinson's school district had five more kids, they would report that as their excess cost, and instead of funding 90 percent of that, it would be prorated to 85, or 87.63821, whatever?




SPEAKER WITHEM:  I did the math fairly quick there, I might have been off on that fourth decimal point that I came up with.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  No, that was the point I was trying to make.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's correct.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Okay.  Let me then get into the next year here.  I visited with committee counsel on this, and I want to make sure that this is the interpretation that we have.  The next year, the next year we will then take this $122 million and we .will multiply it by a number referenced in Section 79-3816 to find out the rate not to exceed the allowable growth range.  Right now that is 6...  6 ...  the range is from 4 to 6 .5 percent, so we would multiply that by up to 1.065, is that correct?




SPEAKER WITHEM:  And is that the intent that it will be the maximum of that range or can it be a number below that maximum?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  It could be below.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  And who will make that determination what that number is?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The Appropriations Committee.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  So we are in the position where...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I mean they will bring that to the Legislature.




SPEAKER WITHEM:  ...  the Appropriations Committee could conceivably say zero, or 01.00000.1 perhaps, so, in effect, the Legis...  so this does not give any school district any guaranteed growth.  It caps the amount of growth that they will get at,, whatever the lid rate will be, which we have a bill that will make that 5.5 percent, but conceivably the Legislature, through the Appropriations Committee's recommendation and our passing the budget bill could conceivably cap this at zero percent.  Couldn't go below that because of the 1, but this could be an indefinite cap at zero percent?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Which they could also do with the Bernard-Stevens amendment.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Well, yeah, that may...this language, in fairness, this language here comes from the various amendments.  It is not unique to the Bohlke-Bromm amendment.  It's borrowed from others, but I just wanted to make sure I understood that mechanism.  I filed an amendment up there that we won't get to right away that would at least make it the maximum, and the Legislature may not want to go to the maximum, but I think we ought to at least assure some sort of growth, because think this has been represented as the...




SPEAKER WITHEM:  ...  school districts will get growth in succeeding years referenced back to the lid provision in the statutes, but that's technically not the case here, so I'll have an amendment that will address that when we have an opportunity to amend this.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Withem.  Senator Maurstad.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Madam President, colleagues, I thought...  I thought Speaker Withem was starting out and going to clarify a few things for me, and I wasn't going to have to ...  wasn't going to have to speak, and he got about half way through it, and then he took a detour, and now I am back to where I was before.  So, Senator Bohlke, if you could answer a question for me.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.






SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Fiscal year 096-97, we are going to appropriate $122 million for special education programs, is that correct?




SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Fiscal year 197-98 is going to be what I think is being referred to as the cap year, right?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That will be the allowable growth.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  That will be the allowable growth year.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  If we don't have a new system in place, which is true, but that's what we've been debat...that's' what we've been discussing, that would be the allowable growth rate year as we have been discussing this.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Okay.  I'll just sit down and listen for a little while longer.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Maurstad.  Senator BernardStevens, to speak to the first section of the Bromm amendment.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the body.  I rise to oppose this first particular section, and I wish we could offer amendments because I think there are some amendments we could offer, maybe even there is some middle ground somewhere, but since this is an amendment to the amendment, obviously, one cannot.  I would rather have gotten a vote on the Bromm-Bohlke amendment as it was, and then, you know, talked about a division of the question on...  as it was in then the McKenzie amendment, but that would have been considered by our rules to be a reconsideration, so I can't divide the question later either.  So the only way to get to the division and get to the issue was to do it in this manner.  There will be amendments certainly pending on...if the amendment is adopted or any of the three sections are adopted, and we will proceed at that time.  However, what I would like to suggest to the body is a way to move forward and then Senator Bohlke will smile because this is the way I would like to move forward, and that is to defeat this first section.  Defeat the first section, in fact, defeat all three sections, just make it go away.  I like that.  But then we have the McKenzie amendment at some point, which




McKenzie, I assume, would support if the other one was gone, being the better one of nothing at all, maybe not, but if so, I would take on the amendment, and then we could offer then an amendment to that or decide where we want the growth to be.  We are going to get to a decision on do we want no growth, some growth, 5 percent growth, whatever the level we want to be, it is hard to get to the amendments.  And so I would hope that we would defeat this particular portion of it.  We will still get to the discussion of that later.  Beyond that, why is this not a good idea?  Senator Warner is absolutely correct.  He came to the wrong conclusion, but he is absolutely correct in the data.  No matter what we do on the cutting of the funds, on the capping, all the students will be served because that's the mandate.  All ...  he is right, every student will still be served because the mandate will still be there.  But what he didn't go on to say is how they will be served.  Since we are not going to give them the money, they have to get it at their local level.  They are going to have to hit the property tax side.  Now their budget is already going to be set.  So they are not going to be able to go out actually and raise the levy, their mill levy, to get more dollars or hope that the valuations go up and the levy stays the same and all that.  They are going to have to go ahead and take the monies that they have already budgeted.  That will be monies that go into math and science.  That will be monies that go into our reading, or students for reading.  That will be the monies that go into the various curriculum programs that we are trying to educate all students not in special education.  That's where the money will have to come from.  That's where the layoffs are going to be.  That's where the class sizes will get larger.  Yes, they will be served, but at a cost to the other side of education, and, yes, we will come back later and decide if we are going to give them the X number of dollars or not, but that's a later discussion.  The damage has already been done.  What I'd like to try to stress to the body is the rationale for a zero percent growth, in my mind, and, again, this is my mind.  I am not speaking necessarily for anyone else, is only money, we don't want to have, says one group, $6 million savings, we have got to have the whole thing.  We have got to have twelve.  And don't worry, everyone can afford to do this, it's no problem.  We are going to do the waivers.  I question the constitutionality if whether or not a department has the authority to waive a rule and reg that's had hearings and signed into law by the Governor.






SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  I am not sure the departments can waive a hearing...a rule and reg without some type of hearing.  I know they can't waive a statute, so any rule and reg in Rule 51 that's a rule and reg because of a statute, that can't be waived.  And if you go down the list on the Rule 51, on those areas that are nonstatute, can anyone in this body guarantee me that this waiving of a statute, supposedly, is going to allow all school districts enough flexibility that there will be no difficulties?  You can't do that.  Why would you want to do that at the same time we are doing the lowering of their budget growths?  Why would you want to take the step and say we are so desperate for cash that we are going to hit you with a lid, we are going to stop the growth, and we'll give you no growth at all?


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.  Thank you, Senator Bernard-Stevens.  Senator Jones.


SENATOR JONES:  Madam President, and members of the body, I yield my time to Senator Bromm.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Senator Jones.  I'd just like to respond to a couple of things, I guess, that particularly Senator BernardStevens brought up.  This is not only about money.  This is about saving, I think, a system that has gotten totally out of control.  It is about trying to curb the line that is going at about a 30degree angle straight up that is an entitlement program and that we can't afford to continue to fund.  Senator Bernard-Stevens, you've been to enough revenue committee hearings this last summer, meetings trying to figure out what to do about the spending and the taxes.  You know we've only got so many people in this state.  I'd like to know how you intend to fund this thing in about five years.  Senator Bernard-Stevens, would you yield to a question, please.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bernard-Stevens.


SENATOR BROMM:  Senator Bernard-Stevens, if we don't get a handle on this, how do you expect to pay for this in about five years?  What is your suggestion on taxes?






SENATOR BROMM:  What is it?


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Absolutely a simple question to answer because you cap it at where we have it now, you put a 5 percent or 3 percent growth on it.  You do what the McKenzie/Bernard-Stevens amendment had, and you do an overall comprehensive study, which we've already appropriated $30,000 for.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  No, you wanted the answer.  They come back next year...


SENATOR BROMM:  But, I want some of my time back.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  ...  they have all the recommendations and then we do it, and we institute the new funding mechanism, that's exactly how you do it...


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  ...  and you don't hurt special ed kids to do it.


SENATOR BROMM:  And if you have...  if you have that mapped out, then I think we should all just vote for whatever your proposal, is.  We don't need to talk about it anymore.




SENATOR BROMM:  You don't know any more about what is going to happen than I do.  What we are doing here is exploring new ground, and in order to do that, we have to get everyone to the table.  We have to make all the adjustments we can possibly make.  Now if we come back in a year and this doesn't work, I will be the first one to join with you and Senator McKenzie and whoever else is interested to provide the necessary funds to make it work if everybody tries their hardest and there isn't any slack or slippage in the system.  I've heard enough from enough superintendents that I don't have any reason to disbelieve that, and other school people, that I believe there is some slack and slippage and some inefficiency in the system that we need to wring out.  And we are not talking about cutting




services for kids that need it.  We are talking about delivering services to those that need it, and taking those out of the system that shouldn't be there, that don't qualify, that we have ...  that have come to be riders on the system because it is the easy way out.  And government is so hard to bring under control, so hard to keep from growing.  We know that.  We know that in social services.  We know that in Medicaid, and this is the third major area, and this is something we can do to...  at least we have the ability to focus on this system to do some changing within the powers that we have, and if it isn't enough , we will be back here and we'll take care of the kids that need taking care of.  But we need to send a strong message that we are going to address this problem, we aren't going to allow or tolerate indiscretions or taking advantage of the system.  We are going to require everyone to do their job the very beat way that they can, and we'll be much better off for it by the year 2000, or whenever the year is that this is going to be consuming most of our educational dollars.  So I just want to remind the body that this is hard.  This is not easy.  It takes courage to check growth of government.




SENATOR BROMM:  But I suggest to you that this is the way we need to try to do it.  I think no one knows for sure, no matter how convincing they might tell you they believe they are right, no one knows for sure how much slack there is in this system, how much it can be straightened out, but I can tell you that we are going to find out.  And we just need everyone's cooperation and support, and in a year or less, we'll have a lot better idea of whether this is going to work or not.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator McKenzie.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Thank you, Madam President and members.  I want to add, I guess, my support to what Senator Bromm said in terms of whether or not I believe that we can take a good hard look at what has been happening to see areas where, in fact, we can find, let me just say, opportunities to spend less.  This is not about asking anyone to go back and cut spending, but to look at areas where, in fact, there could be a slowdown in the amount that we are spending, and that does include verification and numbers of children that we identify.  I, again, say there are only ...  my latest numbers say there are four or less states, including Nebraska, that use the system we use of reimbursement,




excess cost reimbursement.  Twenty-five other states have caps on special education spending.  Eight states have limits on the number of children that can be identified.  This has been a serious problem nationally for a number of years, and different states have looked at approaches whereby they can do what they know they must do.  I think we're all completely aware of the fact that these are children in a protected class.  These are children who have civil rights.  There are things that we can do to change the way we deliver services.  We can look hard and long at who we identify, why we identify, and whether or not our identification is about the fact the child has a disabling condition or whether the fact of identification and verification is based on our inability to do a good job in education.  Now none of us like to admit that, but often that's what happens.  When you see the numbers increase in fourth and fifth and sixth grade, you know that in some cases it has been our inability to meet a child's learning needs.  We created the handicap.  The child wasn't born with it.  It's a sad...  it's a sad play on us sometimes to have to admit that but it is true.  Now the discussion, again, is about whether or not we think we can take a long hard look at the way in which we have done business for 20 years.  I used the analogy earlier that this is a system that we have come to love.  It is solid as a rock.  It is a huge bureaucracy.  It has been virtually unmodified with the exception of additional statutes, additional rules and regulations, additional requirements for 20 years, and if we think this is hard, let's put it off for four or five years.  Let's wait until we are spending 160 million or 180 million and see how hard it will be because I am convinced at that point we will then really be faced with some difficult decisions, much, much more difficult than what we are dealing with now.  Do I want to remove kids from programs or services?  No.  Do I want to make sure the money gets to kids for services?  Yes.  Now what we don't know about the system is what can be modified because we've never asked the question.  Not even the special ed directors could tell you definitively why the increases have taken place.  We know it is salaries.  We know it's transportation.  We know it's the number of children.  We know it's two new categories.  We know all kinds of things, but no one can say, gosh, over the last 20 years we have gone from 3 million to 122 million.  We are still serving about 11 percent of our population.  We know we have more high-need kids.  We know we have kids in classrooms now that used to be institutionalized, and that's ...






SENATOR McKENZIE:  ...  what we should do.  We should be serving kids wherever we can in regular classrooms and giving them every opportunity to have equal opportunity, equal education, opportunities and access with all the diversity that's there in a regular classroom, but 1, again, remind you that I believe all of us know this is a very difficult decision, that we, in fact, will not do things in this body that are going to damage or interfere with those rights of those children or the delivery of services to those children, but that, in fact, we have a system that is growing and growing and growing, and it is time to say, let's find out why, let's find out how to change it, and let's focus on what we need to do to change it in the next two years.  The money issue that we are on right now in the amendment is one part, but the bigger issue is what we will face in the future as we try to get a handle on what we are doing and how we are doing it, and, again,...




SENATOR McKENZIE:  ...  I ask ...  that I am supporting the Bromm-Bohlke amendment, and ask your support as well.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Bohlke.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The question has been called.  Do I see five.  hands?  I see five hands.  The question before you is, shall debate cease on the first section of the Bromm amendment?  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Senator McKenzie ...  excuse me, Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I waive off.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Please record.


CLERK:  25 ayes, 6 nays to cease debate, Madam President.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Debate ceases.  The Chair recognizes Senator Bromm to close ...  Senator Bohlke to close on the first section of the amendment.  Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Madam President, members, as we start to close,




I would like to ask for a call of the House.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  There's been a request for a call of the house.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Please record.


CLERK:  28 ayes, 0 nays to go under call, Madam President.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The House is under call.  Will Senators please return to their seats.  Will all unauthorized personnel please leave the floor.  The House is under call.  Senators, please check in.  Senator Bohlke, you may proceed.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Madam President.  I think we've had a very good discussion.  I think that or I hope that many of us have a better understanding of the issue.  Certainly Senator Bromm and Senator McKenzie have assisted in pointing out what this will really do, but more importantly what it will not do.  The facts are that we know that special education has been growing at a rate that is out of control.  We know that we have to do something about it.  We know that those three areas that we talk about, entitlement, Medicaid, welfare reform and special education, we've started to address the other two areas.  We have nothing ...  we have done nothing to address the costs of special education.  We have talked about it for years.  Since the time I was on the board of education, we knew at that time, in the years 1980 through 1988, we constantly discussed the cost of special education.  I used to always ask what is the cost per student of the special education.  We could not even figure it.  Part of the difficulty here is unraveling all the layers of what is now done within this whole area of funding and then that comes to the point of what people are saying finally, after years and years and being able to determine how we get at what are really driving up the costs, the one way to finally do it is to say, stop.  We need a flat year in order to get schools to look at that.  I think it's very necessary.  I think that, obviously, you've heard from...  I serve as Chair of the Education Committee.  Chair ...  Vice Chair of the Education Committee supports it.  The person who prioritized the bill supports this amendment, the Chair of the Revenue Committee, the Chair of the Appropriations Committee.  We're all concerned on what ...  trying to do what's best for these children, but we also are very concerned about, me, particularly the area of verification and how that has grown and, with that, I'll give the balance of the time to Senator Bromm.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bromm, you have two and a half minutes.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay, thank you and Sen...  thank you, Senator Bohlke, for your remarks.  Like to express appreciation for the information received in ...  and support from Senator McKenzie and the other Senators who have spoken on the topic.  And, Senator BernardStevens, thank you for making the debate necessary because we all learn, we all learn by the process.  I do want to remind the body, I think sometimes we forget what we're talking about in terms of the costs here, schools pay for the regular per pupil cost of even a special ed student.  What we're talking about is a percentage of the excess reimbursable cost over and above that average per pupil cost that the school already pays for.  Okay?  So...  so that we're not talking about 100 percent of the cost of educating that student, we're talking about the excess reimbursable cost.  That's one point that I wanted to make.  I know that the lobby has been fairly strong on this issue and I would expect them to be.  They are the advocates for the schools and I wouldn't expect the schools, after the trend of the growth in...




SENATOR BROMM:  ..spending in this area, to come in and jump up and down and say, yes, we ...  there are a lot of things we can cut, yes, we do want you to cap...  cap the fund and...  and put the pressure on us.  I wouldn't expect them to do that so it would be natural that the lobby would be taking that position and I understand that.  We're talking about changing a system.  we're not talking about dollars for one year.  That's ...  that's really not relevant compared to the system that we're looking at.  We want to change it for the long term and in order to do that we think we need to make some rather significant adjustments in the short term to bring everybody to the table to find out where we can actually make the reductions and the changes, provide the flexibility, and we're talking about changing a system.  So if you want to change the system, we'd like your support on this.  We're not looking at this as a one-year proposition, by any means, but this is a first step in looking at a long-term solution to a problem that's been very much frustration and very much out of control.  Thank you all for listening.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  There's been a request




for a roll call vote by Senator Bernard-Stevens.  Senator Bromm, we are unable to find Senator Pirsch and she is the only Senator who is not available.  Do you wish to proceed?  She just walked in.


SENATOR BROMM:  Have her be here then.  Thank you.  (Laughter)


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Now we will go ahead with the vote.  The question before the body is the adoption of the first section of the Bromm amendment to the McKenzie amendment to LB 742.  Mr. Clerk, please proceed.


CLERK:  (Roll call vote taken.  See pages 2430-31 of the Legislative Journal.) 28 ayes, 7 nays on the adoption of the first portion of the Bromm-Bohlke amendment, Madam President.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The first portion of the amendment is adopted.  I raise the call.


CLERK:  Madam President, priority motion.  Senator Bernard-Stevens would move to reconsider the vote just taken.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Chair recognizes Senator Bernard-Stevens to open on his motion.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Thank you, Mr ...  Madam President, members of the body.  I wish I could explain the emotions that I'm going through right now.  It really doesn't have as much to do with the issue as the...  as probably what I'm about to do, because I've experienced it before at one time.  Probably affected my career to a degree where I haven't been very successful being...  in my bids to be in the leadership and I understand that and I probably understand more than anyone, with the exception of Senator Chambers, what it's like to do what I'm about ready to do, not ready to do, what I'm going to do, because you build resentment, you build frustration.  People get angry and certainly people have a tendency to get back and I know how that goes.  But I can't, for the sake of just money, Allow this to go in this fashion.  I'm willing to reach some type of middle ground, but I can't go in this direction.  I just can't.  I had some special ed kids here from Brady and one of them, almost with tears in his eyes, looked at me and says, you're not going to cut our funding, are you?  And I had to explain to him, no, no, no, the Legislature's not going to do that, you're going to receive all that...  all that you deserve.




But the only thing I have heard from Senator Bromm which, by the way, I thought was relatively a cheap shot saying how are wt., going to fund it, because no one in this body, including myself or anyone outside the lobby, Senator Bromm, and you know it .  has stated that special ed costs do not need to come to a halt.  You know that.  Nobody is denying that we have to get a grip on it, but I don't want to take a sledgehammer to these kids and these families.  I don't want to do that.  Senator Bromm, you're right, I don't know what's going to happen.  All I can tell you is what the McKenzie/Bernard-Stevens amendment did and what it did was said we're going to stop special education growth.  We're going to stop it, Senator Bromm, but we're not going to put a sledgehammer on these kids.  We're not going to dump it on the property tax.  We're not going to dump it on the schools and then come back next year and go, ooh, boy, we did too far, didn't we, oh, well, we sure didn't mean to do that.  What our amendment did was said we're going to tighten it up and we're going to give them 5 percent growth.  Now if somebody wants to come up with a lower number that's reasonable, that's fine.  We're going to give them 5 percent growth just for one other year, just in the transition year.  That's all we're going to do and then during that time we're going to have this comprehensive review of, which even Senator Bromm wants to do, of looking at all the rules and regs, looking at all the statutes, looking at* everything we can do and then coming back with a couple of basic ideas; one, what should we do on our policy to make the new funding mechanism work, what changes should we make, and then we were going to make those changes to get special education under control because we can't afford these cost increases.  All I'm saying and my...  I feel so strongly, I guess I looked that little boy in the eye and I just ...  my heart just broke because I knew what was going to happen.  I knew the Governor was pushing this bill was ...  this amendment was going to go.  I just can't bring myself around to doing that to these kids, who, their families, and you go back and ask the families, ask them how hard they've had to fight for any recognition in schools.  Go back not too long ago what we used to do to kids in special education.  And, yes, we talk about people being identified that shouldn't be identified.  Well, there are those on the opposite streams as well.  We can talk about that till the cows come home, but the bottom line, the decision we're going to have to make is, as we put the cap on, do you give our school district some flexibility before we do the whole process or you just, on some type of feeling, go out there and say we're going to do it, boy, aren't we being tough, and we think everything will be all right.  We




think everything will be all right.  We think the rules and regs might be able to waive, might be able to give you some flexibility, but we don't know, but we'll come back and fix it next year, don't worry about that, we will fix it next year.  And in the meantime what has happened?  I'm just going to take my school district.  You can ask yourself the question on your school district.  In my school district what would -happen if they, got some special ed costs that overrun because maybe a couple of kids moved into the district, they had very, very high multiple disability needs.  They would have to meet those needs but they *will know something from the Legislature.  We passed LB 613, and I know we're going to, which lowered their levy ...  their amount that they can ...  on their growth.  We lowered that, gave them less flexibility because we wanted to get tough on property tax and, in the meantime, we stopped their 'funding ,because we thought everything will be all right, but we also kept all the mandates.  We kept them all, Senator Bromm, every single mandate.  We haven't changed one.  You haven't changed one statute for the rules and regulations.  They've got to do it.  Where do they get the monies, because we're not going to give it to them?  Even with a 5 percent growth, they're going to be hit hard, folks, and I'm willing to do that.  I'm willing to do 3.5 percent.  Even at that level they're going to be hit hard and we're also telling them that two years later you're going to be hit even harder, you've got to prepare.  But to do this the way this is for right now I can't help but think we're not talking policy because we all agree what the policy needs to be at the end.  We're talking money this year.  Senator Bromm, I want to ask you a question.  Would you agree that if your amendment would stay the way it is, would you agree that any, savings that the state gets above the 6 million dollars you'd be willing to put...  shift that into the cash reserve?


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  I'm not planning to spend it anywhere else as far as that's concerned, but I wouldn't want to make that decision without...




SENATOR BROMM:  ..advice (inaudible).


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  ..that answered the question.  Senator Engel, would you yield...




SENATOR BROMM:  ..appropriations.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: a question...  to a question?  If we saved $12 million with this amendment we just agreed to versus the 6 million we're going to save, would you vote to take the extra 6 million and put it in the cash reserve...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Engel.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: we don't spend it?


SENATOR ENGEL:  Well, Senator Bernard-Stevens, I agree with Senator Bromm, I don't think we should...  I have no other plans for it.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  That's fine.  That's fine.  I rest my case, I think.  I'm going to push it further.  Nobody wants to take the money off the table.  Nobody wants to say we're going to save the dollars, we're going to make this from special ed and we're going to take it off the table because we can use it for our community-based programs and juvenile justice or the prison we're going to need or that rainy day we're going to have to have.  Nobody's willing to take it off the table, but they're not willing to spend it, but they know it will be spent because look at the A bills out there.  They can't pass their A bills unless they save 6 million more dollars.  Senator Engel can't pass his LB 42S unless he finds more dollars, pure and simple.  Well, I'm not going to fund economic development from special education kids.  It isn't going to happen here if I have anything to do with it, and I'm sorry I'm this intense.  As Senator Will said one day when I got intense, he said, David, take a pill.  I probably need to take that pill about now, but I feel so intense about what we're doing for money that I will not, if I can do anything, allow this to go at this level.  I'm not closing the door at some level.  I can't let it go at this level.  If the other side doesn't want to come back with something, that's fine.  Then we'll have zero savings in special ed.  Look at your green sheet and see what zero savings does on your A bills.  Then you don't pass anything if you want to have a balanced budget or you go ahead and have an unbalanced budget and give it all to the Governor.  That will be your choice.  And, yes, I know I'm the one that's making that choice.  I know that's not fair.  I know that's being an obstructionist possibly.  That's just how strongly I feel and I can't change




that.  I'm sorry, I wish I could because I know the results after this what will happen, and I regret that.  I regret that, but I don't think I have any choice.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bernard-Stevens.  Senator Witek.


SENATOR WITEK:  .1 was hoping there'd be a couple more lights on between Senator Bernard-Stevens and myself.  Senator Bernard-Stevens, this is almost like the debate that I read about in the paper over the school lunch program at the federal level and your comments are equally as ludicrous.  I have looked this over.  I have followed this.  I had considered this bill as my priority bill.  it's ...  we spent $112 million last year in this area.  We are going to spend $122 million, or up to $122 million.  That is not a decrease.  That is not a sledgehammer.  That is not.  anything else that you said.  That is an increase of $10 million for those programs.  Oh, maybe even more than that.  Oh, 114 to 122, 1 want to be correct, okay.  It is still an increase.  It's not a sledgehammer.  We're not hurting anybody.  We're not capping.  We're not cutting.  Again, it's all in the rhetoric.  I understand that.  The people on this floor from the vote on the last amendment understand that.  The public, if they followed any of this, will more than likely understand it, depending on what's in the press.  We are not hurting anyone at this time other than those individuals who are deliberately scaring people by telling them that we're trying to cut back in these areas.  That's not what's going on here.  You have people who are concerned about the growth in these areas.  The growth in this area has been twice that of the growth in any other education area.  We're trying to find out what is causing that growth.  That's all we want, is answers.  We want the answers to what's causing that growth and we've put together a task force and we're giving them $30,000 to find out what's causing that growth.  That's all we're doing this year.  Because we can come back next January, in six months, you can come back in six months, in January, and do whatever you want in this area.  Our Appropriations Committee can get back together and do whatever they see that needs to be done in this area.  We're just trying to get some answers so that we can consider what needs to be done in the special education area, if anything.  Maybe we'll find out that these costs are all justified.  Maybe we'll find out that that growth is justified and we'll just have to find ways to fund it.  That could be what we find out, but we need to put this together to at least answer some of those




questions because all we see now is numbers on a paper and those.  numbers tell us that this area is growing at the rate of 12 percent a year and right now that's a lot of money and we don't have that kind of money and that kind of growth in most of the incomes in the State of Nebraska from the taxpayers who are paying these bills.  It's not that we want to cut any programs that are necessary.  We don't want to hurt any children that are in these programs.  We don't want to hurt any families that are in these programs.  We want them to have the best education that they can possibly get here in the State of Nebraska and we want to help with that, but we do want to find out what the growth areas are.  If it's something that we can do something about, we'll do it.  If it's something we can't do something about and we just have to sustain it, we will find a way to sustain it.  There is no need to scare people, including Senators on this floor, for the lobby to do that, to scare Senators on the floor and superintendents and everybody else involved that are getting phone calls and letters and pictures of their children.  That's the most cruel thing is scaring these families out there of these children and...and making them think that we are going to take away their children's opportunity for an education.  That's wrong.  That's just simply wrong and it shouldn't be done, in my opinion, and I'm sorry that it is being done because all myself and Senator Bromm, Senator McKenzie, Senator Bohlke and others are trying to do is get some answers, and look how difficult it is.  We haven't cut a dime.  It's increasing.




SENATOR WITEK:  It's increasing in the next budget.  If you continue to make people think that we're cutting then you know that that's wrong, because you can come back in January and do whatever you want in these areas, so please just allow the majority on this floor who would like to get some answers to the questions that we have on what is causing the growth and if we can do anything about it.  And I don't see any reason to get this emotional or this wrapped up in this issue at this point because we haven't done any cutting or any changing at all to these programs right now and this is premature, if it's ever necessary, which I don't think it is, and I would hope that we could get to the votes on this amendment before our four hours are up and Senator withem will more than likely pull this bill and that happens at 10:30 tonight and I would like to see this bill go through this year, so I would hope that we do this in a .timely fashion without the dramatics.  Thank you.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Witek.  Senator Withem.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Thank you, Madam President.  Two points to make regarding Senator Witek's comments.  Number one, I was hoping we were going to be able to adjourn, but I think you just doomed us to stay here until 10:30.  1 hope that wasn't ...  wasn't the case.  Secondly, Senator Witek, a tip from a veteran legislator.  When you want to speak but you're concerned about having your light on too quickly after a previous speaker, shut your light off and turn it right back on again.  That's what I did to you so your speech would be between mine and Senator Bernard-Stevens' here.  So it's another thing that we can do.  My guess is we're probably winding down here for the evening and ...  and that's okay.  This is obviously an issue that's going to go on for some time more and that's okay, I guess.  These are tough issues.  They're not meant to be ...  to be easy issues.  And I think it's kind of sad because I don't think distancewise thereto as much room between Senator Bernard-Stevens and Senator Witek as the emotion and the rhetoric may have led people to believe.  First of all, Senator Witek, I agree with a lot of what you had to say emotionally because, as 1 see special education growing, I'll use your number, I haven't checked it lately, at 12 percent, that's way too high.  That's not sustainable.  We cannot allow a single program in state government to grow at a 12 percent rate when the rest of state government is growing at less than half that rate.  That program will cannibalize the rest of the budget and we have to bring it under control.  You're 100 percent right in what you had to say.  We do need to find a way to cap and I have been around here long enough to remember Bob Kerrey special sessions when Tom Vickers back there was leading the charge on bringing special ed under ...  under control.  We did a few things and came back the next year or two and repealed those and the middle of my legislative career we established the Special Education Accountability Commission and I've been disappointed with that.  And, yeah, we do need to do something this session and I don't think the debate is over do you need to cap special ed or do you not.  The question is at what level, and that's where I'm beginning to become concerned because I don't think anybody knows.  Everybody right now is operating under an intuitive basis.  Some people have said, you know, trust us, we can find the room in the budget to squeeze more so than the bill currently has, hence the Bromm-Bohlke amendment.  Others are saying that we've probably squeezed as far as we can for one year, and it's all based on intuition.  It's not based on fact.




My concern is in this area it seems like the Legislature's able to say, yeah, we can squeeze more than we can in other areas.  Let me draw an analogy.  Senator Hall's not here but he might appreciate this one because he offered an amendment the other day dealing with the roads fund.  My guess is if what the department ...  what the Legislature was doing was trying to bring about more accountability and less increases in road construction and we had the philosophy that we can continue to build the same miles of road each year if we just quit excesses of wide shoulders and cement so many inches deep and the amount of rebar and all of those other things, the Legislature wouldn't stand for that.  You wouldn't trust that.  But we're dealing with kids who are special needs...




SPEAKER WITHEM: and we're saying, yeah, we believe we can squeeze them a little more than we could otherwise and that's what's beginning to bother me.  I really don't think this is about what can we do to meet the needs of special ed kids at a more reasonable rate.  I'm afraid what the Bromm-Bohlke amendment is about is, in fact, what Senator Bernard-Stevens said it's about and that is where can we find money to, fund other programs, and you're finding it on the backs of some of the more unfortunate individuals.  And, yeah, we are talking about cuts.  We're talking about if you have a program that's grown at 12 percent, you need to scale it back, but keep in mind that scaling back means that you're not funding it at the same level you would have otherwise have funded it and that is, in fact, a cut.  I'm sorry, it's not...  it's not continuation budget.  You're ...  you're ...  you're cutting.  I'm willing to cut.  I'm willing to cut the way the original McKenzie, Bernard-Stevens...




SPEAKER WITHEM:  ..amendment.  I'm not so sure I'm willing to cut as deep as this one cuts.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Withem.  Senator Chambers.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Madam President and members of the Legislature, Senator Bernard-Stevens, I'd like to ask you a question.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bernard-Stevens.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  If the action on this bill proceeds in the direction it seems to be proceeding, what is it that you ultimately propose to do?


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Two things.  One, it will certainly give you more time to plan on some of the other issues that you want, but the second thing, I would hope that the choice would be between no growth and 12 million dollar savings or...or no bill and zero savings, somewhere in the middle so that there would be some growth, some transition for what we're trying to do to control the costs.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Now if I were saying what you said, I think it sounds like you said you're prepared to pull out all stops to do what you can to stop this bill altogether if it goes in a way that conflicts with your principles.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  I tried to say that more diplomatic than what you would have done.  That is correct.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  And that's why I don't know if everybody got the picture.  Well, I want to let you know, Senator Bernard-Stevens, when a senator expresses himself in the way that you did then another senator, which it is her right to do, stands up and pooh-poohs the way you say you feel about a matter and she's going to say how everybody feels and she's totally wrong, that could be a provocation.  And I will tell you this.  This is not the only bill that's going to take a long time and I feel like what Senator Withem said, I've stayed out of this discussion, but I have very strong feelings when I can see people deal with programs involving children the way this one is being dealt with.  There seems to be a kind of cavalierness about the whole thing.  And there are bills, I've told you, the crime bill, I'm going to the mat on it; welfare, I'm going to mat on it, and, Senator Bernard-Stevens, I don't apologize to these people for that.  They bring these bad bills here.  They offer these amendments based on how they feel and they're not going to back up an inch.  You don't have to apologize because you're going to use the rules or whatever is at your disposal to fight for what you think is right.  I admire him for it and it is going to give me some time to think, but I don't really I need that additional time.  I'll find mine.  I'll take mine.  And I'll find a way to be cordial with you all after that because




you know how I am.  You, none of you have got anything I want, none of you.  So what can you do to me?  Make an ugly face?  That's when I'm in seventh heaven.  Just by existing and being myself I give you all ulcers, give you headaches.  You walk here with your mouth stuck out as long as a fishing pole and that's supposed to bother me.  You're playing into my hands.  Why should I be upset?  And I'm glad to see that at least one other senator is prepared to draw a line and say, this far you'll push me and no further.  This is a serious issue to some people, very serious.  It touches heart strings, if you have a heart.  it touches emotions.  And when there are issues that will touch a person in that way and some persist in rubbing that person raw, expect the kind of reaction which that kind of provocation will elicit.  I started to get up here and imitate Senator Witek, the high-pitched, twangy voice that would make the angels stop their ears and ply their pinions because their teeth are set on edge.




SENATOR CHAMBERS:  That's the angels.  So what's a poor mortal, created a little lower than the angels, supposed to do?  Laugh.  That's why human beings were given the power to laugh, because we don't have the power to throw lightening bolts and strike people dead.  Senator Bernard-Stevens, as this debate progresses, I may have more to say on the bill, but I am trying to get a feel for where things are going to be and I do think there has got to be a middle ground someplace on this issue, but there will be no middle ground found if you fold your tent.  Because, see, if you fold your tent, you're going to make me have to pick up another burden and I don't want to do that so I'm going to keep your feet to the fire where you placed them but tell you I'll be back there cheering for you and if every now and then I need to throw a log on the fire,...




SENATOR CHAMBERS:  ..I'll do it.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Chambers.  Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Priority motion, Madam President.  If I may, a couple of items.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Items for the record.




CLERK:  Senator Lindsay would like to put amendments to LB 455 and Senator Witek to LB 592.  (See Senator Lindsay's AM2430 and senator Witek's AM2380 as found on pages 2431-33 of the Legislative Journal.) Senator Bernard-Stevens would move to adjourn until Tuesday morning, May 23, at 8:30 a.m., Madam President.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The question before you is the motion to adjourn.  There's been a request...  there's been a request for a machine vote.  Question before you is the motion to adjourn.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Please record.


CLERK:  13 ayes, 13 nays to adjourn.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  We do not adjourn.  We now return to discussion on the motion to reconsider.  Senator McKenzie.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Madam President, I'll try to use a voice like a lullaby and then everyone will fall asleep.  Senator BernardStevens, if you would yield to a question, please.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bernard-Stevens.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  When we advanced LB 742 from committee with amendments did you vote yes?






SENATOR McKENZIE:  And when we advanced LB 742 with the cap year in it from General to Select did you vote yes?




SENATOR McKENZIE:  Well, I just wanted to double-check if my record of the vote was correct because I, too, have done the same.  Senator Janssen and Senator Stuhr from committee have voted no consistently on every issue related to the advancement of the bill and whether out of committee or whether advancing to Select File, so your...  some of your arguments this evening about believing that this bill, with the Bromm amendment attached, is something you absolutely cannot live with are somewhat confusing




to me.  And I will admit that it's a confusing issue and it's hard to know and I should be the perfect example because I changed my mind and I believe you have the right to change yours.  I just wanted, I guess, some explanation, if You would, and I know but I would like you to share that with some of the body if you would take a couple minutes to explain what issues might have changed your mind.  Can I give you two minutes and ask for one minute at the end just to respond?


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Sure.  I appreciate that.  I don't particularly think any Senator needs to explain their vote, but I would be glad to.  When the bill was in committee I was opposed, as anybody could read the transcript.  In fact, our Lieutenant Governor was there at the time and ...  and I grilled her quite extensively, but very politely, I might add, to what your staff said, gee, you got a tough grilling, and she said, no, that wasn't bad at all.  So I ...  the bill itself I was opposed to, but because I went to Santa Fe and because, which was right after the Micron debate, and because I had the concept of where we needed to be on capping special ed I had to vote to get the bill out of committee so we could offer the amendment to do so.  At that point, I was working with both you, Senator Bohlke and others trying to draft an amendment that would do the concepts that I had and others had in mind on the block grants, but to keep the bill alive to get to that point where we had the amendments, Senator McKenzie, you'll remember, we needed to advance the bill.  So it was a catch 22.  By advancing, voting to advance the bill, I was putting the bill in a position that we could make the policy that I believed we needed to do.  In retrospect, I should have never let the bill out of committee and we should have no ...  no savings whatsoever on the sheet because the money has gotten in the way of the policy.  But that's why I voted the bill.  I've always had this idea in mind which.  was why I was with you in developing the plan and so on.  So I give you the rest of your time back.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator McKenzie.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Thank you.  I just wanted to have that little dialogue and allow that opportunity for discussion because we did discuss the concern about putting a flat year in after General File and' that's why we introduced the amendment together.  It is a difficult issue and we go back and forth, but I will tell you if you look at the special education worksheets that people hand out, you will see that schools project what




they believe they will need and, without fail, in the last three or four years, for instance in 1991-92, they projected they'd need 102 million.  They actually submitted reimbursements for about 89 million, 81 million.  In '92-93, it was 110 million...




SENATOR McKENZIE:  ..and actually were reimbursed that year for 89 million.  So when we look at that 122 million, you know, this year's projection was 133 million a year ago and it's down from that number to 122.  Now you can ask yourself the question, why does that happen, but I believe it indicates that this area is one where there is some flux, where you can look at the beginning of the year and make some projections about what it might cost, but, in reality, you can find, as you deliver programs, that you're not going to spend as much as you projected.  It's not 122 when we talk about that as a definite.  That's a projection.  And if we follow the pattern, schools will probably submit reimbursement for maybe 20 million less than that collectively.  So I just wanted an opportunity to add that to the discussion.






PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Robinson.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Madam President, members of the body, Senator Wehrbein, I've got a couple questions for you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Wehrbein.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  How many agencies did the Appropriations Committee review?  SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  I can't I suppose there's about*.




SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  ...  50.  We...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Well, there's more than that, isn't there?




SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  ..We have that many numbers but they're not all...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  okay.  Did any of them take a, including salary, did any of them take more than a...  less than a 3 percent cut?


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Say that again.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  I said did any of the agencies take ...  increase less than 3 percent, and that includes salaries too?


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  I'd say I'd have to go down that list.  I'd say there was a few took less than that, yes, very few...




SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  ..or a few.




SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Because we did cut some quite severely, frankly, percentagewise.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  I think what Senator Stevens' (sic) and Senator Withem's saying and I think Senator Chambers saying that...  and I feel that way and I think a lot of the people that didn't vote and a lot of the people that voted no, I think we all feel that special education ought to be cut and I think the figure's probably about 3 percent.  It'd be...  instead of the 5 that we talk about, it ought to be 3.  That...  that, along with the waivers, I think, would be sufficient.  But I really have a problem with going down to a flat ...  to a zero lid because I think you can talk about, all you want to, about releasing teachers' aides and a few of those things.  You can go to some of the things that the ESUs can do, but I guess I'm just not convinced it can happen.  I'm not convinced it can happen.  But I'll tell you, a 7 percent lid, I'd like to...  I'd like to have seen some 7 percent cuts in some agencies, you know that, but we didn't move that way but what we're ...  we're doing this and I think 3 percent wouldn't be too bad and, hopefully, there will be an amendment that I think Senator Stevens (sic) is...  may have an amendment on that.  I think that, to be fair, I think




that's about where we belong.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Robinson.  Senator Maurstad.


SENATOR MAURSTAD:  Thank you, Madam President and colleagues.  I don't know if Senator Bernard-Stevens is still ...  still around or not.  I want to respond a little bit to one of the things that he's brought up and I don't...  I don't mean this, because, obviously, he's feeling...  feeling a little low right now and I don't mean this to be derogatory to Senator Bernard-Stevens at all, but there are some of us that probably don't analyze, might be an understatement to state, quite -to the extent that Senator Bernard-Stevens does relative to all of these issues.  He's ...  he's brought up, I think, one of the basis for his motions to reconsider is that those 27 or 28 that supported the first portion of the Bromm-Bohlke amendment did so because they wanted to fund A bills and he, obviously, selected a couple Senators to ask if they would be supportive of putting the money aside on the basis of knowing what the answers were because I think he said earlier in the session you don't ask another Senator a question on the floor if you don't have a pretty good idea what their answer is going to be.  So I wanted to indicate, just as one individual, I didn't make my vote on that portion of the divided question based upon making dollars available for other A bills, so I want to make that clear.  I've told him that I don't ...  don't intend to support LB 425.  The introducer knows that.  The Department of Economic Development knows that.  I was an early supporter of the bill, so from this pers...  this Senator's perspective, that didn't ...  didn't enter into it and I certainly would support his motion to set aside the difference into General Fund reserve.  I think that's probably a good idea.  Hopefully, others will think ...  think likewise as we get to that particular amendment on this bill.  You know, we've got this ...  this particular amendment's divided into three parts.  I believe there's about ten more amendments that are filed on this bill so we've got quite a bit of work to do on it yet and so I don't know that there's one vote at this point in time that's life or death relative to 742.  So I hope we continue to work on it.  I hope that a compromise can continue to occur because I think we need to advance and pass a special education bill this session, but this is one senator that didn't vote on that last motion to provide additional funding for other A bills.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Maurstad.  Senator






SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the body.  Senator Wehrbein, would you yield to a question?  It's a straightforward on the budget on the green sheet.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Wehrbein.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  On the green sheet now with the ...  if we had a 5 percent growth, which, obviously, we have a ...  we don't have ...  we have a zero growth now, but on the green sheet with the 6 million dollar savings, would we have been able to pass all the bills on Final and Select File as they now are and not go into deficit?


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  You mean with the bill ...  the bill as it is at this point.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  No, the bill as it was with the 6 million savings.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  No.  But you...  I can expand on that.  it's, instead of 9 million, it's ...  the new one tomorrow is going to show 3 million though...




SENATOR WEHRBEIN: we're within 3 million.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Okay.  So...  so, Senator Maurstad, I understand what you're saying and I concur.  You don't ask senators on the floor questions unless you know what their answer is going to be and you'll notice I didn't ask you because I think I knew you would say, yes, you would support me on that, moving it to the cash reserve fund, and that's certainly one of the amendments that are there.  But, Senator Maurstad, let me give you a little...  relate you a little story I had last week.  At the end of the week, I kind of went towards the administration and I asked them, is there any middle ground, and they said, I don't know, let us get back to you.  And they got back to me and we met very briefly and I can't tell you that...  I'm sure this probably did not come from the Governor, this came from staff, but you know the one thing that they




wanted to compromise for, they were thinking they might compromise, they'd have to run it by the Governor and what have you, guess where it was?  They said, tell you what, we might compromise at the 3.5 percent and ...  but you've got to let LB 42S come up to a vote and we want to change it to 3 million and we want to bring that up to a vote.  That was the ...  that was the compromise that was thrown out.  Now, to be fair to the Governor, when that was run by the Governor, he said no, or my understanding is he said no.  But it was interesting that the staff who had been working on the Governor's initiatives, that was the first thing that they were going to compromise on.  Nothing on education policy, nothing on what's going to happen to special education, nothing on LB 613, it was LB 425.  And when you looked at the sheet that we have, the only way, for the time being, for 425 to pass at a 6 million level is to increase the amount of savings.  Surprise how that would be.  If we just get...  squeak out another 6 million of savings, we'll be able to fund everything on Final Reading and Select File, including the SEED program, at 6 million.  And I'll bet you odds.  I ran the amendment, though Senator Warner was correct, it was too soon, but I wanted to try to send a message and get a shot or at least talk about it a little bit, I'm not sure if I offer the amendment, if this bill goes on in its present form and passes and I offer the amendment that we take the savings extra off the board, my sense right now is that amendment won't pass.  They won't be willing to lose that "flexibility".  I don't mind.  I can...  I'm in...  I'm in good shape.  I'll move to recess again, if the body wants to do so, and I suspect the reason they didn't recess the first time is because they didn't want to come back at 8:30, they'd rather come back at 8:00.  That will be my next motion and we'll go that ...  we'll go that route, because they probably wanted to get more time work and I appreciate that.  I simply, on this reconsideration, would like to just kind of lay the...  lay of the land a little bit.  If we don't get to a vote on this bill, the ramifications will be the bill will carry over to next year.  That will be okay because all the studies will go.  We'll have all of the information to make some good policy decisions.  But on the green sheet you take off 6 million dollar savings and then we really will have some...




SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  ..tough decisions to do and I suspect we may have to bring the budget back for some amendments because we won't be able to meet that ...  that requirement.  So there is a




lot at stake and I understand that, but I think the kids in the special ed are worth it., particularly since I've never heard anyone tell me for sure they know they're right and I don't like to gamble on kids with developmental disabilities and special needs.  I don't gamble on those kind of kids and so I ...  we are where we are at this point, Senator Maurstad, and I appreciate your comments.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you Senator Bernard-Stevens.  Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Madam President, I, once again, I have a priority motion.  Senator Will would move to adjourn until Tuesday, May 23, at 8:30 a.m.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  You have any items for the record?


CLERK:  No, ma'am, I do not.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Question before the body is the motion to adjourn.  All those in favor say aye.  There's been a request for a machine vote.  Question before you is the motion to adjourn.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  There's been a request for a call of the House.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Please record.


CLERK:  16 ayes, 0 nays to go under call.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The house is under call.  Will senators please return to their seats.  Will all unauthorized personnel please leave the floor.  The house is under call.  Will senators please check in.  Senator Warner, will you check in.  Senator, Kristensen, Senator Hudkins, Senator Jones, *Senator Avery, Senator Janssen, Senator Hartnett, Senator Brashear.  Senator Bernard-Stevens, will you check in.  Senator McKenzie, Senator Lynch, Senator Beutler, Senator Lindsay.  We're waiting for Senator Lynch, Senator Beutler and Senator Lindsay.  Waiting for Senator Beutler and Senator Lindsay.  Waiting for Senator Beutler.  Senator, we cannot find Senator Beutler.  Would you like to proceed?  The question before you is the motion to adjourn.  There's been a request for a roll call vote.  Mr. Clerk, please proceed.


CLERK:  (Roll call vote taken.  See pages 2433-34 of the Legislative Journal.) 16 ayes, 16 nays to adjourn.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  We do not adjourn.  I raise the call.  Senator Wehrbein.


CLERK:  I have a priority motion, Madam President.




CLERK:  Senator Bernard-Stevens would move to reconsider the motion to...  I assume motion to adjourn, Senator.  Is that right?


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bernard-Stevens, (inaudible) ...


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Thank you, Madam Chairman and members of the body, and I don't mind doing this the rest of the night.  This will be fun.  I've got another motion to adjourn till 8:15.  I've got another one filed at 8:00, one to 7:45, another one 6:30 and I'm going to have roll call votes and if we have a call of the house, Madam Chair, I want you to know I'm going to ask for a roll call vote on whether we have a call of the house and I'm going to not vote and we're going to reconsider each one of those.  If that's the game we want to play, fine, let's play.  ready to stay here all night, no problems.  So this is the motion to reconsider.  This is what I was telling the body that when we get to this point it's kind of tough because things ...  you know, you kind of feel like yourself, as though you are against the world and that's kind of the way it has to be and I'm sorry for that.  Again, what this ...  we're on the motion to reconsider and that's simply on the adjournment portion of it, but I want to talk about the first section of the bill on the percentage, because Senator Withem brought up an important point on the way the bill is drafted, but technically the way the amendment is drafted, and I concur with him, it was even a fault that the other amendment had on the McKenzie/Bernard-Stevens amendment that technically we're at a zero percent growth potential all the way through until we have the funding mechanism.  And I don't think that was the body is intent but, nonetheless, that's something we'd need to try to get to.  On the 12 percent growth, Senator Bromm, would you ...  well, that's okay.  I was going to ask Senator Bromm a question but I already...  I think I know the answer to that.  The bottom line is on special education that no one, I think, disagrees with is that we want to cut spending.  We want to stop the growth.  I do too.  We want to waive rules and regs.  We want to look at all the statutes and see which ones we want to




maintain, which ones we want to modify.  I want to do that too and so I think do the movers of the Bromm-Bohlke amendment.  We all want to come back after a summer of looking at all of these.  In fact, I got the amendment for $30,000 for the Department of Education and the state board to do their study on special education specifically.  We're all going to get together towards the summer and at the end in the fall and come up to some policy decisions on what, (A), rules and regs are going to be needed to be waived, what can be waived, what statutes have to be changed.  And Senator Stuhr, I think, has an amendment filed, if not, I know she was thinking about it, that would also have the Department of Education come back with a cost impact, a fiscal impact as to, okay, if we do reduce it and have no growth or wherever we do, what will the fiscal impact be on the rules and regs that we can waive, and can we waive enough to give enough flexibility to the local districts?  And, Senator Stuhr, I'll certainly be supporting you on that amendment because it makes sense, but notice what her amendment does.  Her amendment will be saying that, you know, after we look at all these things we should have a fiscal impact so we know what it is, what actually the fiscal effect is going to be, which indicates something, ladies and gentlemen.  We don't know now.  We have no idea now.  Senator Bohlke can't tell you now.  Senator Bromm can't tell you now.  I can't tell you.  No one can tell you.  So what we have is simply an indication of, (A), do we want to cut spending?  Yes.  Do we want to put a cap?  Yes.  Do we want to go ahead and have some growth in there?  Right now, the answer is no.  I'm hoping the answer will be yes.  If it's not at the 5 percent, maybe it's some other area.  And what will happen if we give them a 3.5 or 4 or 5 percent growth?  What will happen?  Budgets will be reduced.  Staff are going to have to be looked at for the next year that will be coming, for the year '96-97.  We're going to be looking at the rules and regs because everyone will be coming to the table, because everyone sees that after the year ninety...  I think Senator Maurstad gave that back to me, I'm not sure where it is right now, here it is, everybody knows, I assume they read the amendments, that in '98-99 there will be a new funding system implemented so we don't know if there will be any growth or what.  It's simply going to be a new funding mechanism.  That's what we're going to have in '98-99.  So the only difference is whether or not this Legislature wants to save 6 or 12, but please understand that, even though it saves us money, you have to take it from somebody.  If it wasn't a cut, Senator Witek, how come we're saving so much money?  It's an interesting question.  Senator Witek says, no, it's no cut.  I




mean, we're just saying the same.  It must be somewhere, otherwise we wouldn't be saving $12 million.  That's $12 million that would go to somebody, that's obviously not now going to go to that entity, and that entity is special education.  I'm not arguing that we shouldn't cap.  I'm not arguing that we shouldn't have a new funding mechanism and we've got to look at all the rules and regs.  I am, however, arguing that you can't do the Draconian thing, in my view, of a zero, flat cap with no growth.  At this late stage, I don't think that's a responsible way to go.  Again that's just my own feeling.  And then when each of us ...  we each have to draw, many times, a place or a line in that concrete or sand, in this case it is sand, where we want to be, and I've drawn my line and that's what I have to do.  Want to talk a little bit about the rules and regs.  one of the things that concerns me on the rules and regs is that if you have a statute, can you waive any of those rules, and my argument is, no, the department has no authority to waive a rule and reg that was established because of a statute.  Nowhere do we go in to the...  to the decision on whether or not what statutes we're going to waive.  We do, however, say that they can waive rules and regs, but no one has answered the question and there's probably a simple answer.  Can an agency, on their own, just waive a rule and reg that they've had public input?  The rules and regs have gone to the Governor.  They've gotten signed off on.  They are now the law, if you wish, on the agency law.  Can an agency say we're not going to do that and then can an agency come back and say we're even going to change it without a public hearing or without going through that process?  I don't think so.  I don't think that flexibility is going to be there in the short term.  The other comment on...  I'd like to make on the bill itself, if you notice, it has the next meeting of the Department of Education or the State Board of Education.  They will, in fact, do something.  I'm trying to find a copy of that amendment.  It's on page 2, line 2.  It says, to the extent practicable.  I remember that in a Supreme Court case on redistricting.  We didn't fare so well on that, but nonetheless, to the extent practicable, the State Board of Education shall grant or deny a waiver request at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the board following receipt of written waiver request.  Senator Bohlke, are you in the Chamber at this point, or Senator Bromm?  Senator Bohlke, you're up front.  Can you tell me when is the next meeting of the State Board of Education?  Not...  and if you don't know that's fine.  I'm not trying to...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  (Microphone not activated immediately) ...  this last week so it would be a month from...  I believe it was last...  I can't even think what today is.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Okay, so some time in probably the next three weeks, three and a half weeks, it's once a month.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Three and a half weeks would probably be safe.


SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  Okay.  Three and a half weeks to four weeks the state board will meet.  Let's see what's going to happen.  Now we've got about eight days left, seven days after today.  Assuming the bill passes, for a minute, on Final Reading the last day or the day before, now they're down to about two and a half weeks.  Now school districts are going to have to look at all the rules and somehow come out with a policy decision of which ones will be beneficial to them, give it all to the department and the department is supposed to somehow in about a week, because at least these applications for waivers are going to be coming in all over the place, they're going to have to, as those applications come in, analyze each one, make a policy decision and then we're going to say the next meeting they have to make a decision on that.  That's crazy.  It doesn't make any sense to do it that way.




SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS:  I'd like to have somebody ask why we want to hurry so fast on special ed that we're willing to put absolute chaos within the system because they have to rule immediately.  The only thing I can think of is somebody out there, and I assume it's outside, decided, well, I know, the Legislature will buy off on the fact that these rules and regs we can waive and everything will be all right, but we'll even make it better than that because they'll buy this.  They won't think about this very much.  We'll even say that the State Board of Education has to act immediately at their next board meeting and, boy, that means we're going to act really quickly and it will be done.  That's nuts.  Think about the school districts trying to figure out what waivers, going through Rule 51, trying to find out what they've got, assuming that some of the people will still be around, that the school's not out at some point and they're not on vacation, then they come in with the waivers and the state board has to make a decision on all of those on good policy.  Doesn't really make sense too much and I'll talk




about that a little bit later.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Madam President, Senator Bernard-Stevens would move to adjourn until 8:15 Tuesday morning, May 23.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The motion before you is a motion...  Senator Withem.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Yes, the Speaker is allowed to speak once on a motion to adjournment.  I am going to do that.  My recommendation to the body, even though I don't want to come in at 8:15 in the morning as opposed to 8:30, 1 would point out that absolutely nothing positive is happening at this moment.  I've seen this before where the body gets locked into two different positions and one side is going to force the other one to give up and then neither side does.  We are in a position where we probably have transacted the last meaningful piece of business that we are for today.  It's obvious we have to move on this bill.  We're not going to do it tonight.  The rules give the Speaker the privilege to speak to a motion to adjourn.  I assume it's for purposes such as this where the Speaker feels that it is overwhelmingly in the best interests of the body just to quit doing what we're doing, allow tempers to cool a little bit and come back and deal with this at a later date.  Having said that, I'm sure I'll...there will be one vote for the motion and 40 against probably, but I would recommend very strongly to the body that we vote in favor of this.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Withem.  Mr. Clerk, any items for the record?


CLERK:  I have nothing to read in at this time, Madam President.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Question before the body is the motion to adjourn.  All those in favor say aye.  All those opposed nay.  We are adjourned.