Bill Summary, LB 713 (1997)
Introduced by Senator Bohlke, LB 713 (1997) had the singular mission to change the state aid certification date from July 1st each year to December 1st each year. The certification date is the date by which the department must let school districts know what their state aid will be for the following school year. This date had already been set and reset several times, and would change again in subsequent legislative sessions.
The principle reason for moving the date was to permit local school boards more time to establish their district budgets based upon the amount of projected revenue and state aid. School boards also had to be cognizant of the April 15th deadline to file reduction-in-force (RIF) notices to certificated staff. It was believed that by changing the certification date to December 1st there would be a more logical timeline of events and deadlines for boards to meet.
The change in certification date would become operative beginning with the 1998-99 school year, which meant NDE would first use the new provision to certify state aid by December 1, 1997. In order to facilitate an earlier certification date, several adjustments also had to be made in the computation process. The definitions of "general fund operating expenditures" and "transportation allowance" were amended to reflect changes necessary to provide data for the earlier certification. Beginning in school year 1998-99, general fund operating expenditures and the transportation allowance would be calculated by using data from the school year immediately preceding the most recently available complete data year, adjusted by the average annual change in each district's general fund operating expenditures or transportation allowance for the two school years immediately preceding the most recently available complete data year. However, for the final calculation of state aid, the general fund operating expenditures and the transportation allowance would be as reported in the annual financial reports (AFRs) from the most recently available complete data year.
As an example, using this process for the 1998-99 calculation of state aid with a December 1, 1997 certification date would designate the data from the 1995-96 school fiscal year as the "most recently complete data year." The two-year averaging process would then include the two school fiscal years preceding the most recently complete data year (i.e., 1993-94 and 1994-95).
The legislation also added clarification for calculation of other actual receipts, for purposes of computing district resources, to indicate the correct data source for the earlier certification. The other actual receipts would be equal to the district's other actual receipts from the school year immediately preceding the most recently available complete data year, adjusted by the average annual change in each district's other actual receipts for the three school years immediately preceding the most recently available complete data year. However, for the final calculation, other actual receipts would be as reported in the district AFRs for the most recently available complete data year.
LB 713 certainly could not be classified as a technical bill given the substantive changes, but it was treated nearly the same way throughout the legislative process. Technical bills rarely receive much debate or attention, and neither did LB 713. The bill sailed through the first and second rounds and passed by a 42-0 vote on March 21, 1997. Governor Nelson signed the bill into law on March 26th.