Debate Transcripts

LB 1228 (1998)

General File

March 5, 1998




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  ...would have income tax consequences is, frankly, quite alarming to me.  Now I don't necessarily agree with the opinion that that's what it causes, but if that's the intent of the introducers that it caused that kind of an actual dissolution of the corporation, with the attendant income tax consequences, this is not appropriate.  We should not do that, and I'm anxious to find out if the introducers think that's what we're doing.  And if they do think that's what we're doing, why we should do that.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Dierks, you're recognized to close on your amendment.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  The amendment, I think...we kind of got away from the amendment, but I believe the ,amendment helps to clarify part of the opposition that some people have had.  It just eliminates the, reporting requirement that any contracts that are made between a farmer and a grain handling company, for instance, who enter into forward contracts or deferred payment contracts, it just eliminates that problem.  So I would urge your support of the amendment.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the closing on the amendment.  The question before the body is the adoption of the Dierks amendment to LB 1193.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Please record.


CLERK:  25 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Dierks' amendment.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  The amendment is adopted.  It's now 10:30.  We will move to General File, 1998 senator priority bills.  LB 1228.


CLERK:  (LB) 1228, Mr. President, on General File.  The bill has been discussed on two separate occasions.  When the Legislature adjourned for the evening last night, they were discussing the third component of the committee amendments, specifically Section 4 of the committee amendments; FA547.  That amendment is pending.  I do have an amendment to that amendment,




Mr. President, by Senator Witek.  Senator Witek is excused until she arrives.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Is there anyone authorized to handle that amendment?  Seeing none.  We'll move on.


CLERK:  I have nothing further pending to this piece of the committee amendments, Mr. President.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  We're now moving to debate on this portion of the committee amendments as divided.  Senator Bohlke, you are recognized to close on this division of the committee amendments.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members.  This is where we left off yesterday and had a lengthy discussion.  Have said that this ...  we have, standards that are being adopted in the state.  The state board has committed to the necessity of having a test to measure those standards if we are improving.  And we had an interim study on it and the recommendation, as in the bill, that says the testing program shall consist of one test purchased from a recognized testing service which tests students in the areas of mathematics, reading, science, and social studies, plus one writing test.  That's essentially what we're asking to do and it would be one test across the state.  With that, that is my closing.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the closing.  The question before the body is the adoption of the third division, which is Section 4 of the bill.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Please record.


CLERK:  27 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of this component of the committee amendments.




CLERK:  Mr. President, the next component, Senator Bohlke, I believe is FA546, which consists of Section 3 of the original committee amendments.  (FA546 appears on page 912 of the Legislative Journal.)




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bohlke, you're recognized to open on this portion of the divided question.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members.  Yesterday, as we were talking about the testing, I said that we had an interim study.  We called it the "accountability" subgroup, and what we looked at was certainly the assessment of students, but also the accountability of how schools spend their money.  We have a number of school districts in the state who have adopted a software program that really is an overlay of how ...  what they report to the State Department of Education.  You may remember seeing it, how it reports out the information and tracks the dollars that schools are spending.  It has an initial start-up cost.  If you remember the papers I handed out yesterday on the color coding that shows the costs, this would be a cost for that that we are estimating.  And really, we do not know ...  we've ,talked to some companies and looked at what other states have done.  This would be a projection of what those start-up costs would be.  But from the school districts that have used this, we have heard that the general public feels better informed, understands how schools are spending their money, and actually, school board members said for the first time, when they are working with a budget, it presents the information in a very understandable fashion and tracks it so that it is easier for them to understand when they are making policy decisions and certainly easier when they are trying to explain it to the general public.  I know that Senator Wickersham had some wording that he wanted to make sure on the accountability with how it would be presented to the public and that they would be able to, through ...  be able to go to a computer and pull off a report that is included in that wording that it would be available and that the department would develop that.  I think that ...  we had a teleconference with the state of South Carolina and had a number of people in the Education Department at South Carolina, including a school board representative, a school administrator, a finance person, where they had gone statewide in South Carolina with this very same thing.  What it does is it presents one reporting system statewide so that everyone can look at the dollars and how they're spent using one measuring stick.  It does, in that first year, when you're doing the overlay, require some work.  And so it does have the training component in there for school districts to use in order to make the reports that




they now have work with the overlay.  There are a number of accounting firms who have this package available.  The schools in Nebraska have used generally one accounting firm, but there are others out there.  And so those schools that I could tell you about who have used this are Omaha Public, Fremont, Columbus, Norfolk, and I believe Bellevue.  And this is something that, as I've said, as we tried to make sure that we continue to have the support for public education in Nebraska, I think people ...  we are very fortunate in this state that generally, if you talk to taxpayers, they are very supportive of education.  However, they do want to understand, in a more *&oily understood fashion, how we're spending their money.  I think that provides this for the public, I think it provides a tool for school districts to relate that to their public, but I also think it's a tool for school board members to more easily understand and track those dollars and to make better decisions on how they're spending those dollars.  So, with that, I'll try to answer any questions you may have.' Thank you.




SENATOR VRTISKA:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Senator Bromm, your light is on.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Senator Vrtiska.  I had an opportunity this summer and fall to attend some subcommittee meetings with the Education Committee.  And one of the subjects ,of the subcommittee that I was involved with was a uniform financial reporting system.  And we were encouraged to look at a Coopers Lybrand system that has been developed that Senator Bohlke mentioned is being used in South Carolina and perhaps Omaha, Fremont, Columbus maybe, Norfolk.  And we did ...  we did learn some things about that.  The ...  there are some good things about that system, there's no question about it.  But this is not something that we should jump up and down and summarily approve without a lot of consideration and understanding of what it is we're doing here.  And the reason that I ...  one of the reasons that I'm saying that is that I don't get a lot of complaints from constituents that they aren't getting enough information from their school districts on finances.  I do not get that complaint.  The complaints I'm getting right now are that we have put some schools in a terrific bind on being able




to find money to keep their teachers and to buy books and to keep their sports programs going and other activities without charging a fee.  Now, if everything were rolling along real rosy financially in this state for schools, this is a frill that we could afford to have.  But I'm going to suggest to you that we take a real hard look at this.  And I don't know how...  I don't know how adamant Senator Bohlke is on this component of the bill, but this component I'm pretty adamant that we're not going to have, unless we do some other things for education to pay for the basics, because it's a matter of priorities.  And there are some questions about any uniform financial system that need to be asked.  You've heard the old adage, garbage in and garbage out.  Now, one of the problems with any financial reporting system, whether it be for private business or a public school or any other entity, is uniformity in coding your expenses and checks.  If I have an assistant superintendent and I code him as administration, that.  goes into one category.  If I code him as,,, support staff, that goes into another category.  And unless you I have uniform coding, the information that you get out is going to be no better than the information you put in.  You also need to be asking yourselves and asking your districts how much training is going to be required to implement this system.  And I encourage all of you, I encourage all of you to read very carefully Section 3, which talks about the items that are going to be covered under this standard financial reporting system.  It must be provided in electronic format.  It must provide for the inclusion of Class I data.  It must maintain compatibility with existing accounting systems.  And then it may be purchased from a private vendor or developed by the department after a cost analysis.




SENATOR BROMM:  The department shall provide periodic training to appropriate school district and ESU personnel on using the system.  The department, in each local system, shall provide defined financial reports to the media.  If the public is so adamant about having this information, why don't they show up at the budget hearings?  Why don't they just show up at the budget hearings and ask some questions?  The budget hearings I had an opportunity to be at for ten years as school board member and president, we had a maximum of maybe three people.  If the




public wants this information, the public should show an interest in getting it.  I think we're solving a problem here that doesn't exist, and we're going to spend at least $2.5 million right off the bat to do it.  That's almost half the amount Senator Coordsen's bill needs, 1247, to provide a safety net for one year for schools that got their legs cut off at the knees.




SENATOR BROMM:  I ask you to take a serious look...did you say "time", Senator Vrtiska?




SENATOR BROMM:  I ask you to take a serious look at this, ladies and gentlemen.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Wickersham.  Senator Wickersham.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Mr. President, members of the body, this section of the bill, I think, is an important one and, as Senator Bromm indicated, I think we ought to know what we're doing.  Now as this particular section of the bill was considered in the committee, there were a couple of things that I was specifically interested in, in terms of improving what I see as the current information process that is used by schools, and quite frankly in a much broader scope I'm interested in that information process, not only for, and I don't make these remarks to alarm people, but I'm interested in that information process, not only for schools, but for other political subdivisions.  You'll note that one of the requirements that's in the amend...  in this section of the amendments, is that you be able to prepare these reports in an electronic format, i.e., computers, making the kind of data that we're going to generate in a format that isn't necessarily pieces of paper.  We've got mountains, warehouses almost, full of pieces of paper.  Most of those pieces of paper are hard to access, they can be hard to understand, even once you get them, and it doesn't seem to me to be the direction that we need to be taking in simply increasing the amount of paper.  So the amendment is specifically directed




at moving us from those mountains of paper into electronic formats.  Now, what can you do with electronic formats?  You can then file electronically, so you don't have to gather up all those pieces of paper, put them in the mail, file them with the auditor, file them with the Department of Education, file them with whomever.  You should be able to file them electronically.  What does it mean once they've been filed electronically?  Depending on how you set up that system, that may mean that any person in Nebraska, or in fact any person anywhere in the United States, or any person that has Internet access, if those reports are put on the ...  on a web page, can access those reports.  You don't have to call the county clerk, or walk into the county clerk's office, you don't have to call the State Department of Education, or walk into their building, you don't have to call the State Auditor, or walk into the State Auditor's Office, or wherever else one of these reports is filed.  All you have to know is what web page it's on, call it up, and if you're interested print.  it out.  You don't have to worry, about somebody's copy machine being broken, the fact that they may charge a dollar per page or some other fee, you don't have to...  it is, I think, the way, increasingly the way we're going to be able to use to inform the public or to allow the public to be informed.  The other aspect of having electronic formats available, and in particular electronic filing, is that once the information is reported, you don't have to hand that to someone and say, enter this data into a data base, put this into some format that we can use to analyze and to extract information.  If you have electronic filing in the first place, and that electronic filing is then compatible with the data bases that you may want to create to use for analysis, you don't have to do that second step of handing pieces of paper to someone and creating a new data base.  The data base is already created, so it's almost a matter of efficiency in those...




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  ...  aspects.  And secondarily, if we're able to produce greater uniformity in the way that the data is created for those reports, we should be able to use those reports, whatever form that they may take, as we attempt to make policy decisions in the Legislature or others attempt to make, policy decisions.  So hopefully, hopefully what we're providing




for in this particular section of the committee amendments is somewhat of a change, somewhat of an advancement, if you will, almost into the next century, so that we will be able to provide better information with easier access, not only to the citizens of this state, but also to this body, if it has a requirement for information as a part of its...




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  ...  decision-making process.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Thank you, Senator Wickersham.  Senator Janssen.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Thank you, Mr. President, members of the Legislature.  I have a school district in the 15th District that does use the Coopers Lybrand system.  Visiting with them a year ago about this, I remember them telling me that ...  of the possible savings that was reported out of that ...  out of their study when they would discover certain areas where there were discrepancies, certain areas that they were spending too much money on, areas that needed more money spent on, you know, they were maintaining that it almost is cost-neutral.  But there again, looking at the bill, I don't know whether I would want to strap this on the back of another, of a smaller system.  Nowhere do I see where there is help in providing training to appropriate school districts and educational services units.  Boy, if I'm ...  unless I'm missing it, nowhere in here do I see any financial help.  And I hate to slap this on the back of a district' that's already struggling, trying to main ...  keep their school and keep from having to go over the levy limit.  I don't know what this is going to cost.  Maybe Senator Bohlke could ...  would have an idea what, you know, say on a student body of let's say 500 pupils.  Was there any way that you could tell me what the approximate cost would be to initiate a program like that?


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Senator Bohlke, will you respond?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Senator Janssen.  First of all, it doesn't cost the school district anything, because this has an A bill on it, for it, the state purchases it and then the state...






SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  pays for the training.  So it will ...  would be dependent on what they would purchase.  But we targeted what, looking at other states with accounting packages, and so you will see that there's a $2,648,000 A bill on the initial, but that's the initial start-up costs in order to take it statewide.  And that has come down dramatically from when some of these were first introduced, actually.  And I think that was the case with Fremont, that it was much less expensive at the time they purchased it than when the company first came out.  So in another year's time it could very well, likely those costs, like with all software, continue to come down.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Um-hum.  Well Senator Bohlke, the problem I am beginning to see here is that we get that program established, get it started, then who is going to pick up the cost after that?  There's got to be I a cost to this thing somewhere along, it's going to have to cost something.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  It really would be the only ...  after you have the training, after you had the person trained, and you've purchased the software, it's the ...  but it's not a double entry then, you know,...


SENATOR JANSSEN:  No, you mean that ends after...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  it's the first year...


SENATOR JANSSEN:  ...  you have all the program put into place.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That first...the first year it...there would be ...  you have to have someone be trained in order to do it.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  So there's that time, you know, that the state .is paying for training.  But there's a commitment of time from that local district to have someone trained.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  So the only cost then to that district would




be say a substitute...




SENATOR JANSSEN:  ...  teacher or something that...  so someone else could go to ...  to...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Or if they did it over the summer, probably to go to the ESU to get the training.  So I mean, yes, it would be very, very minimal, but they would have to dedicate the staff to get trained.  But the training is there.  And once you're ...  the training is there and you've purchased it,, then really,.  you know, it's an overlay, so it's not a-double entry.  And that's what we asked South Carolina.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  All right, is that $2 million, is that enough?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  That's what...


SENATOR JANSSEN:  What would happen if...  if ...  would this ...  is this figuring all schools?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  This is all schools, statewide.  And we've asked ...  we've asked some of the companies that are providing this.'




SENATOR BOHLKE:  This is the estimate, but I don't know who they would select in the bid process.  This is the estimate we have received.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Okay, thank you, Senator Bohlke.  And I'm going to pay particular close attention to this because I don't want us to be strapping undue...




SENATOR JANSSEN:  ...  financial burden on some schools that are struggling right now.




SENATOR VRTISKA:  Before we go to the next speaker, Senator Beutler has as his guests today 20 fourth grade students from Prescott Elementary here in Lincoln.  (Introduced teacher.) Would you please stand and be recognized by your Legislature.  Thank you for being here.  Senator Bohlke, your light is next.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you.  And I thank the senators who have raised the questions and, as Senator Bromm says, this does take some discussion.  We spent a great deal of time looking at it, talking to other states, talking to school districts.  As I've mentioned, the people who did the interim study represented a number of areas of education and business.  One of the things that we have found out, and I think was raised earlier, that sometimes we make assumptions, and there are states who have been asked very specific questions, what do you spend in staff development?  And they say, what percentage of your budget do you spend in staff development?  One state said, well, probably about 3 percent.  When they had a common reporting of what really accounts as staff development, found out really it was about 9 percent of their budget because they hadn't pulled the different pieces from the areas that they report on staff development.  The same is true, very often you've heard, when you go out and discuss with the public, well, you know, our schools are trying to do the best job they can.  They say, well, they can cut those extracurricular activities.  I mean I don't know how many of you have served on a board of education or just out publicly and have heard people say that, one reporting system which showed that in fact about 2 percent to 3 percent go for those extracurricular activities.  And so it is a way, I think, to be ...  to clear up the assumptions that people make, and certainly, as Senator Wickersham talked about, access to information.  I think in this day and age it's very, very important for the public to have that access to information.  I heard what Senator Janssen said and the costs, and I want to clarify that once again.  It's really that start-up cost in the first year.  Generally, it would not be teachers who would get the training.  In most school districts, it would be the clerical staff, or if they had a business manager, and if they don't, then that generally falls on the superintendent in smaller schools who fill out those reports and would have to understand how to do this overlay.  And so the cost is in that first year.  I think there's always some hesitancy from some




schools on a common reporting system, how is it going to look, how are they going to compare to everyone else on how they spend their money?  That makes them nervous, I recognize that.  All of us could recognize that if we all, when people are going to audit how we spend our campaign money, you know, how are we going to look compared to everyone else.  There's a certain nervousness.  But I think that the more the general public understands and tracks the dollars, the more they can look and see how their districts and where they're dedicating their expenditures, and quite frankly, once they get over the nervousness, help them look at how they are dedicating their dollars, what percentage are they spending on staff development.  You could ask a number of specific questions like that and they really...  it would take someone almost two to three days, maybe a week to access the information from all the different spots where they may have it in this big, thick report.  What this overlay does, you could ask that question and instantly get the answer by accessing the software as to the percentage of where the dollars are going, tracking them, what they're being spent for.  I think as the debate in the future years continues to go on with are we properly funding schools, or are we not, that we need to have a clear understanding ...


SENATOR VRTISKA:  one minute.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  of if we have ...  if we have provided enough available resources, and, with those resources, how schools are deciding to spend them.  I think that's going to be very key in the future for public education to continue to have the support from the general public, and certainly the access that it provides them and the better accountability of how we are spending their tax dollars.  Thank you.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke- Senator Bromm, you're next.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Senator Vrtiska.  Senator Janssen raised some valid questions about what would be the expense to the local school system.  And I would direct the body's attention to the fiscal note on LB 1228, the first page, at the bottom of that page, or the last line which ...  where Sandy Sostad tried to analyze the cost of the financial reporting system, if




we adopted 1228.  She goes through an analysis and she says, there may be some expenses at the local school system level if schools need to make adjustments in school accounting systems to mesh with the newly developed financial reporting system.  So she clearly leaves the door open by saying there may be some expenses.  We have different schools all over the state, of course, with different accounting systems.  And I submit to you that to have an employee go for training and that employee is paid by the school district, and the time to implement a system into the school system, a new financial system, is going to take time and money.  And I also note that the school districts that Senator Bohlke has mentioned that are using this Coopers Lybrand system, which I think we might as well put Coopers Lybrand in the bill because I think if we do this we're going to have the Coopers Lybrand system.  I was on the subcommittee that looked at this, Coopers Lybrand was the only alternative commercially that I was aware of.' I talked with the Department of Education at the time.  Although they're able to do some things in this-­ area, they don't have the expertise or the time, probably, to go duplicate the Coopers Lybrand system.  So I think that's the system we're looking at.  The system Senator Bohlke mentioned, Omaha, Fremont, Columbus, Norfolk, and Bellevue, I guess I would ask...  I know there's something they all have in common, and I would bet on it, I would bet on it, and that's a business manager.  Senator Janssen, does Fremont have a business manager?  Would you yield to a question?


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Senator Janssen, will you respond?


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Yes, they do, Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  That's Mr. Shepard, right?


SENATOR JANSSEN:  That's correct.


SENATOR BROMM:  Yeah, thank you.  I'm confident that Omaha has a business manager.  I'm confident that Columbus, Norfolk, and Bellevue either have an assistant superintendent with that responsibility or a business manager.  Now I could see where those people could adapt and make use of this system very, very well.  But one thing we've got to remember, if we pass something like this, this applies to the Stromsburgs, the Rising Cities,




the Pragues, the Meads, the Wahoos, and all of those districts that I have a great many of, that don't any of them have any business manager.  What they do is most all of them use the ESU system for accounting.  They fill out information, send it to the ESU, who processes it and issues checks and monthly financial reports.  And that has worked very, very well for them.  Now if we want to develop a system, and we can make it workable through the ESUs or some system like that, and we want to finance that, I don't have a problem with that at all.




SENATOR BROMM:  But I have...  I do have very serious concerns with the one size fits all approach of this amendment.  And I may be the only one that sees a problem here and, if I am, I'm willing to accept the wisdom of the majority of the body.  But I am telling you, when you go home and this is implemented this year, ear, And later this year that you will begin to hear from school districts as to what are you spending money for down there?  If you've got $2.5 million that you can spend on this, please give us some consideration for some help with some teachers so we don't have to rif them, for some new textbooks that we need, and things like that.  The goal that Senator Bohlke has here is an admirable goal, but the...




SENATOR BROMM:  ...  mechanics of carrying this out are a real problem.  Thank you, Senator Vrtiska.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Wehrbein.  Senator Wehrbein, on the committee amendments.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Yes, Mr. Speaker, members of the body.  I don't know whether I have questions.  Maybe Senator Bohlke would...  I'd have a couple questions.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Senator Bohlke, will you respond?


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  And I admit, I got into this late, Senator Bohlke.  She did say yes, so I'm...






SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  I got into this a little bit late.  I was listening to the other parts of the bill, and then this morning when this came up I wasn't quite ready.  But I assume that this has been a long-time need, as far as the Education Committee and perhaps others, that we need a standard system across the state for reporting?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  We've been discussing it for over ...  well, it was our interim study.  But prior to that, the year before it was brought to the committee and they're essentially pilot projects, I guess, going on around the state right now.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  How many do you have?  are five.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  I mean, and that's not something the state has done, that has been something those schools have done on their own..  But they really serve as a pilot project,


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Is it mostly in the...  286, if you said that, I missed it, as to how the ...  where the 286, 286 systems come from that are going to be involved in this (inaudible)?  What I'm honing in on is the cost and whether it's spread across the state, whether there's a possibility of a phase-in, that type of thing?  And maybe you spoke to that and I apologize if you have, I'll need to hear it again, I guess.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  We really haven't spoken to a phase-in.  I think Senator Bromm has raised the issue with the concern for some of the smaller schools that I will talk about.  Remember, last year, and on the one sheet, Senator Wehrbein, we moved to systems.  And so we now talk about systems instead of...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  of districts.




SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Okay, districts, okay.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  And ...  and so that's why we talk...  it refers to systems.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  And a system would be a K-12 school district, like Omaha is a system, or a K-12 district that has Class Is affiliated, they are now a system, or a Class VI that has Class Is with them, they are a system.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Okay.  How many systems do we have now?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Two hundred and nine ...  286?


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  So this really ea 1 over s every, system in the state.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, it does.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  But they are classified different, and that's different than the districts used to be, where we have now 565?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  You're covering the same...  the same area.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  Okay, but now you're calling...




SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  ...  because of the affiliation.  Okay, I understand that.  So this does cover every one.  And actually what I was toying with, as I heard Senator Bromm speak, if we ...  under the old class system, which I understood much better, obviously, you could ...  we could have required Class III, IV, V, and VI, and let I and II go a year.  Now we don't have that much flexibility, is that ...  would that be true?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, we could probably still work at that.  And I have my light on and I'll talk to the discussion ...  about the discussion we had in committee on that.






SENATOR BOHLKE:  But it would make it a little more complicated, but I'm not saying it would be impossible.


SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  All right, and you'll talk about why it would be more complicated to do that?




SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  So, I guess most of my questions have been answered in terms of if we accept the need then we're going to have an unfunded mandate to some degree, although we're offering some money up front here to do that.  I guess my one concern that maybe you could talk to later, Senator Bohlke, is the long-term operating costs that would be on the ...  what I don't .want to get in the posi...  X.  may be willing to_ put the money in up front, if I'm sure it will work and will be enough, and we'll also be able to benefit enough the school district that they would see this as a necessary unfunded mandate.  In other words, long-term it could save them money, if everything was standardized, they had their training in place, which I've been led to believe a lot of our software costs really are training, not so much the so-called hardware and the material things themselves, but it's training.  And I guess I am willing to listen, if...




SENATOR WEHRBEIN:  ...  if those things can be addressed, the long-term costs are going to inevitably ...  eventually save money because of the ease of accounting, I may be able to be convinced on this.  So I'll wait for your conversation on that part of that.  Thank you.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Thank you, Mr. Wehrbein, Senator Wehrbein.  Mr. Clerk, items for the record.


CLERK:  Mr. President, thank you.  Senator Kristensen, amendments to (LB) 395; Senator Coordsen to (LB) 1333; Senator Suttle to (LB) 1073; Senator Matzke to (LB) 11.93;.  Senator Landis to (LB) 1015.  And I have a Reference Report, Mr. President,




referring gubernatorial appointees to Standing Committee for confirmation hearing.  (See pages 914-21 of the Legislative Journal.)


Mr. President, Senator Bromm would move to amend this piece of the committee amendments.  (See AM3543 on page 921 of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Senator Bromm, on your amendment.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Senator Vrtiska.  The Pages are handing out my amendment, hopefully, as quickly as they can, and it is AM3543.  And I didn't have a chance to really think about this very much until I was driving in this morning on some roads that were a little slick, and so I was going slow and I was thinking a little bit.  And I got to thinking about this section of the bill.  And I thought, you know, maybe what we need to consider here as an alternative is asking the state Department of Education to develop a...provide a plan to the Legislature for uniform financial reporting system for all school systems.  And the plan should be a consistent format, it should be useful in identifying expenditures and revenue for each local system, it should allow for easy comparison of financial reports between local systems, it should be adaptable to changing requests for information, and, as Senator Bohlke had in her amendment, it should provide for the inclusion of the Class I information within the system, and it should be in a format that's easy for the taxpayer to understand and make comparisons.  Now that to me is the crux of this thing.  What we're saying here is, and the motivation seems to be that the taxpayer deserves to know where the money is being spent, and I agree with that.  And I think they could find out now, but I know that sometimes it's a challenge to do BO.  So this amendment would strike Section 3 of the amendment, Section 3 that starts ...  that starts on page 5 and goes through...goes to the bottom of page 6.  And it would substitute the information that I have here.  The intent of this amendment is to direct the state Department of Education to come up with a plan for the Legislature by December 1 of '98.  We could react to that, if it requires money or requires further legislation we could do so.  But I am...  I am fairly convinced that we have enough financial reporting and enough financial information that comes to the Department of Education from each




school system that we just need to give them an opportunity to recommend a format for some of that information that might be usable for the purposes for which Senator Bohlke and others are concerned.  This would eliminate the need to purchase the Coopers Lybrand system, at least right now.  Maybe the Department of Ed would come back and say, hey, we don't have a way to do this, Coopers Lybrand is the only way we can do it.  But I consider Russ Inbody and others over at the Department of Education the authorities in this area.  And I have confidence that if we give them the opportunity and the direction to suggest a plan, that they will do so, and I will have a lot more confidence in the plan than I have right now.' There have been some who have been lobbying very hard for the uniform financial reporting system and in so discussing it, the Coopers Lybrand system comes up.  And that may be the only game in town right now.  But, as we all know, financial data, and electronic data and computer programs are changing, as We speak on the floor.  And I'm not convinced that we should jump at this juncture to a $2.5 million option when I don't really think we need to.  And I would encourage you, especially any of you that have smaller school districts, to talk to your districts and your superintendents and determine if they have ascertained how this will impact them, and whether they feel it will be useful to them in their particular district.  I know that this may be something that not a lot of people take seriously, but I can tell you that this is one of those lightning rods that we will need to defend, we will need to be able to defend this.  And so I want to place the proponents on their toes to tell us why we have to do the more elaborate system and contract with someone like Coopers Lybrand before we ask the state Department of Education to come up with something that might very well meet the needs that we have here.  I would like to give them a formal opportunity to do so, and I'm not saying that I won't eventually come back to the conclusion that Senator Bohlke has come to.  But I sat on that committee this fall.  I am not convinced that we're ready for or that we need the language in Section 3 of this bill.  But I'm willing to go forward with the objective of the uniform financial reporting system, a consistent format, easy comparison between school districts, something the taxpayer can understand, willing to work towards that objective.  And I think we can work towards that objective, but I think we're using a Mack truck to do something that we could use a pickup to




do right now, especially at a time when we have a limited ...  we have schools with limited resources.  This is going to be viewed as another one of those ivory tower things that we in the Legislature feel that we have to have because we know better how the local districts should report their financial information than they do.  And not only that, we're going to prescribe ...  we're going to prescribe the system that they use.  And as I stand here, I'm telling you it a going to be Coopers Lybrand system because that's the only, apparently, game in town.  If there are others, I'd appreciate hearing from...  about them.  If there's going to be an RFP,...would Senator Bohlke yield to a question, please?


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield?




SENATOR BROMM:  Senator Bohlke, under Section 3, as it is in the committee amendment, will the Department of Education be required to put out an RFP for this uniform financial system?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, they're a state agency, so they would have to, I think, Senator Bromm.  They would have to put out that.


SENATOR BROMM:  They would have to put out an RFP?




SENATOR BROMM:  How are they going to decide whether to do that or to develop their own system?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  It does ask, in the bill on page 6, line 10, it says a ;oat analysis for each alternative.  So it requests that they do a...  it really requests already in the bill that they do a plan or a feasibility study.


SENATOR BROMM:  And then they make the decision as to whether ...  whether it's purchased or developed by the department after a cost analysis?




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Right, which is...  I mean very...  in many ways parallel to what you're saying we have them doing, and then they make the decision.


SENATOR BROMM:  Well, my...  I guess my point is I would like to have an opportunity to reflect on that recommendation before we go lock, stock and barrel into this system.  Our schools are not going to collapse, our schools are not going to shut their doors...




SENATOR BROMM:  ...  this year.  Thank you, Senator Vrtiska.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Janssen, on the Bromm amendment.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Thank you, Mr. President, members of the Legislature.  If anyone would like to stop by my desk over here, I have a copy of the Coopers Lybrand financial analysis that was prepared for the Fremont Public School System a year ago.  I And you're welcome to stop and look at it, it's a very complex document.  So you're welcome to come look at it.  And looking at the Bromm amendment, I begun...begin to wonder what...  I think it's fine, Senator Bromm, I like that.  But what would the costs be in having the Department of Education do this?  I know how these agencies work, they'll run in with an A bill that will probably be much more than what they really would need, they all do, and no exceptions taken there.  And I ...  if that were...  if they would come up with something as good as Coopers Lybrand, Coopers Lybrand keeps coming up, as far as I know it's the only system that's available.  I've never heard of another one.  But certainly they could look at...  look at what they are doing in the schools that they are contracted with now and see what the costs ...  what the cost would be in implementing them for the whole state.  I think once you had the plan in place there shouldn't be an ongoing cost.  I would assume there wouldn't be an ongoing cost.  With that, I would give the rest of my time to Senator Bromm, if he would like to have it.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Senator Bromm.




SENATOR BROMM:  Did he yield the rest of his time to me, Senator?.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Yes, Senator Janssen yielded you the rest of his time.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you.  How much time is left?


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Three minutes.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay.  Thank you, Senator Janssen.  I want to make clear, Senator Janssen, that I'm not intending that the state Department of Education spend a pot full of money to provide a plan to the Legislature for a uniform financial


,reporting system.  My intent would be that they would investigate the alternatives, tell us what, the alternatives would 0 cost, and come back by December 1 with the results of that report.  The Education Committee could reflect upon that, determine whether further legislation is necessary, or whether an A bill next year is necessary, or what we want to do.  Ladies and gentlemen, we just got through with a major overhaul of the school finance system in this state.  It's not through yet, it's not through yet, it's's still coming into place.  (LB) 806 is still taking effect.  Now, I think the goals of this section of 1228 are laudable to look at, but it is ahead of its time as far as requiring it as a mandate in every school district.  Yes, we're going to pay for acquiring the overlay, yes, we're going to pay for some training.  But, no, we're not going to pay for the extra time and expense that the individual districts will incur to implement the system.  I don't think we have the foggiest idea what it's going to take to implement it.  I know in my business,...




SENATOR BROMM:  ...  if I change accounting systems, and I'm a small law practice, four or five lawyers, I know that it's a deal, it is something for us to do that, and it takes time and it costs us money, costs us personnel time, extra time, overtime.  And it's not going to be any less cumbersome for a school district.  And don't think about ...  don't think about the




Columbuses and the North Plattes and the Norfolks when you're doing that.  So I ask you, it's easy, please, for you to consider the Polks and the Pragues and the Scribners where they are riffing teachers to try to get down to $1.10.  This is not good timing, folks.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Time.  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Bohlke, on the Bromm amendment.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Mr. Speaker and members.  I` ve 9 been listening to the debate.  And really what Senator Bromm is proposing, I think he and I agree what we eventually want in a reporting system.  What Senator Bromm is saying is have the state Department of Education come up with a plan.  What our bill says is they have to do a cost analysis of the...  of how much it would cost for them to generate their own plan or to purchase off the shelf.  Now, true, Coopers Lybrand, which is really now, they've sold that, it's called Insight, has the one software package out there, Deloitte Touche also does, so there are other accounting firms who have software packages out there available to schools.  Certainly, when Coopers Lybrand had Insight, they were going around very actively trying to get some schools involved in using that program.  But I agree with Senator Bromm that it is a difficult time for schools.  I would say that's the better argument to have where you can prove to the taxpayers where you're spending your dollars, and you can make a stronger argument then I think for the need if they want to go for an override, or when they're having to make difficult decisions as to where they're going to cut their budgets, if they're having to cut their budgets, it certainly is more beneficial to have it in a common reporting system that makes it easier for those board members to understand.  So I don't think Senator Bromm and I disagree on what we're trying to get our schools to do, it's just that with this amendment we would ask the state department to probably take another year to come up with a plan, and in the end I'm assuming that the plan would probably lead towards the purchase of a software program.- I'm not sure that they have the expertise, when I've talked to them, to come up and design a software program, I don't think they do, the state Department of Education.  They don't have the people on staff, I don't think they have computer engineers, but they could hire them.  And then we're right back to we aren't really




saving any money.  And so what our bill says is there has to be the feasibility study to get at that money issue, and then make the decision according, after that feasibility study, if to purchase or not, or to develop their own.  So in a way we're doing the same thing, the only thing-is that we are doing it with a feasibility study and eventually with a purchase.  The other thing is that Senator Bromm, and it may be, Senator Bromm, just for one moment, if I could have your attention, it may have been inadvertent.  In ours we have that they have to report all costs, and you left that out.  Was that intentional or was that just ...  you said you did this, You know, quickly.  Was that something you meant to do, that you want all costs included?


SENATOR BROMM:  Which, Senator Bohlke, which paragraph of your amendment are you talking about?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  On page 5, line 16, we have "report all receipts," and I don't find that in say "emphasize a consistent format, be useful in identifying comparison adaptable..."


SENATOR BROMM:  Um-hum.  That ...  that subsection of your Section 3, it wasn't my intent to exclude that.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I didn't think so, but I wanted to make...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  So I think we would...  I just think that what Senator Bromm is saying...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  and what we're doing in the bill, really are not any different, other than I think we could incur some extra costs if we ask the state Department of Education to come up with a plan.  And that's the dialogue I want to have with Senator Bromm.  I know he doesn't want that, nor do any of us.  But I ...  the discussion I wanted to have with Senator Bromm, if he doesn't think that feasibility study is the very issue that he's concerned about, that the committee was concerned about that the state department must do before they purchase.  And so,




I see that he has his light on and we can continue to have that discussion, because I really don't think we're far apart on what we're trying to get at, it's just how we're going to get there, I guess.  And so I look forward to continuing the discussion with Senator Bromm and emphasizing that I think it's very important to have the state department look very carefully...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  at what they're doing.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Before we go to the next speaker, I would like to announce that Senator Kristensen has, from Kearney Horizon Middle School, Sunrise Middle School, 84 students in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade.  (Introduced sponsors.) They will be performing in the Rotunda at twelve-thirty this noon hour.  Welcome to your Legislature.  Will you stand and be welcomed by the members of the Legislature.  Thank you for being here, we hope you have a nice day.  The next speaker is Senator Bromm.  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Yes, thank you, Senator Vrtiska.  The difference between ...  Senator Bohlke is right, that there's a lot of similarity in what we're suggesting.  The difference is, if I can clearly explain what my intent is, is that my intent is that the department look at the information that's available on how to provide this information, what the alternatives are, what the costs are, and come back to this Legislature, by December 1, with a report on what their findings are and.  what their recommendations are.  Then the Legislature will have an opportunity to accept that, to fund it, to modify it, revise it, or whatever we would like to do.  Senator Bohlke's proposal, to the extent that I've just described what would happen, is the same, except that it goes on to the next step and says it shall be implemented.  It says the state Board of Education shall require and provide a financial reporting system for all systems; the reporting system shall ...  and then it goes on to what it shall require.  So I am stopping short of the implementation phase and saying the system or the plan shall provide us with the suggestions and recommendations of the Department of Education and their findings.  Then we, the Legislature, take that information and decide whether we accept




it as suggested, whether we fund it, whether we make it more ...  whether we make it more elaborate or less elaborate than what they suggest.  We have a chance to reflect, and I think this is a big enough deal that we should have that opportunity.  The question was also asked, my amendment doesn't have the words Senator Bohlke does about providing this information in electronic format.  And the reason I don't have that in there is that again that is part of what I want the Department of Education to tell us whether that's practical, feasible usable or whatever.  I certainly would support working towards electronic data exchange, and I'm sure that we will.  Most schools have a home page now, have a home page.  You can get it on your computers in most school systems.  And they can put on that what they want, which I think is great and a great way for the public to get information about your schools.  I don't think we need to tell them that they have to have a home page, because they're doing that as a matter of public relations and.  service to 'the public.  So the difference is my amendment says they shall, the department shall look at the alternatives, come back with a plan for having a uniform financial reporting system.  Senator Bohlke's amendment goes one step further and says it shall be implemented.  And, if we were to want to change it, we'd have to come back and change it by legislation.  So I would prefer that we go the route of going up to the edge of the cliff without taking the jump before we've looked at how deep, and how wide, and how ...  what kind of a cliff we're looking at here.  And again, I have to confess that I am thinking a great deal about the small schools on this amendment.  I am not worried about Lincoln, Omaha, Bellevue, Fremont, Columbus implementing this, Norfolk.  It would be helpful to them and they will do it.  And they have business managers and this will probably save them some time.  What I'm thinking about is the schools that do not have a business manager, that the superintendent or the superintendent they're sharing with another district is doing all of this and will have to do all of this.  And at this juncture in time, when we're...






SENATOR BROMM:  ...  still implementing 806, 1 think it sends a




signal that I'm not comfortable sending without further study, and that's why I want the Department of Education to do the study and come back with a plan that we can reflect on.  And I compliment Senator Bohlke and all the work that she has done and the subcommittee and the Education Committee.  And I'm not...  I'm not wanting to put any disparaging slant on that, that's not the point, but sometimes we have to stop and think about how this affects us at the grassroots.  And so I want to look at it further in a plan developed by the Department of Education.  It's been suggested to me there's another group out there, the School Finance Review Commission, that's supposed to have something to do with looking at school finance alternatives.  I'm perfectly willing to have them do it as well, but they have no staff.  So if we use them, which I'd be very supportive of, I think we'd have to provide staff, we have to direct the Department of Education to give them support staff.




SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Senator Kristensen.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Wickersham.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I think there's some important points that are being missed here.  I've read Senator Bromm's amendment and I confess, I think that for the most part it would produce the same results as the committee amendments, with a couple of exceptions.  One, it doesn't expressly provide for electronic access, it doesn't provide for the maintaining of compatibility with existing accounting systems, and it doesn't provide for an electronic format for whatever system is developed.  I think that those are critical components, and I can't imagine why they're left out of Senator Bromm's proposal if he really wants to make things easier for school districts.  And it isn't my intention, as a supporter of this section of the committee amendments, to burden small schools, because, as I understand our direction here, it is not to impose an unfunded mandate, but to actually cause the state to provide and to pay for this system.  And it should be beneficial to schools, whether they're large or small, because they will have a consistent reporting system, they'll have one that is electronic in its format rather than paper, and




they should have better access, their patrons should have access to better information.  I can't imagine why those parts are left out of Senator Bromm's amendment.  And I do want to ask the body to focus on the notion of whether or not we just want to continue the old paper pushing routine or whether we do indeed want to move at least this portion of our system into an electronic format.  And I'll reiterate again that I think we could move other parts of the state's reporting requirements, the local budgeting processes, other components of all the paper that we have now into electronic formats.  And in fact, in my view, not only can we do that, we should do that.  We're all getting more and more accustomed to that- way of obtaining information, it's more and more possible for us to obtain information in that way.  It's incumbent upon us to provide information in that way.  The kind of proposal that Senator Bromm is emphasizing and that the committee amendment is emphasizing is consistency, we have that...  there is that in common.  It Is also a commonality that we want to provide ',for easy comparison between local systems.  And I would add that not only should we have easy comparisons, but we should have compatible or comparable comparisons.  And, if that doesn't sound like a redundancy, it isn't always the case now, they have to be comparable.  Not only do you have to make a comparison, you have to make sure that what you're comparacing"...what you're comparing is the same.  Senator Bromm agrees that what we have ...  what we need to provide is a system that will respond to change.  I agree, we have to be able to provide for change.  I think we also have to be able to provide the Class I information within the context of the primary high school district.  That provision was put in there as an aid to the very smallest schools, the Class I's, because we recognize that they might not have the capacity within that school ...




SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  ...  to meet the electronic formatting, electronic filing requirements.  But it's anticipated that the primary high schools would not find that difficult to provide for, so the provision was in the bill, and it's in Senator Bromm's amendment to take care of the Class Is, to provide them with an avenue to meet the requirements and to meet them through the use of the facilities and the resources of the primary high




school district.  I do want to suggest that I am, and I think other members of the committee were, and it's exhibited in the amendment, sensitive to placing an unwanted and undue burden on schools.  But it is our objective to provide more information to the public, to provide that in a format that they can use, that they can access, and that hopefully...


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Time.  Senator Janssen.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members ofthe Legislature.  Addressing this issue again, there's no doubt in my mind, there's no doubt in my mind that the systems who develop ...  who, if we can develop a plan, a one-fits- all situation, that these schools will definitely, definitely save some money.  It's been proven that this can happen.  And that is the situation we want all of the schools to be in is to be able to control their:_ expenses to the fact that they're., saving some money.  But I tell you what, ladies and gentlemen, I will not go home and tell some of my schools that are right now fighting for their livelihood, and trying to override the lid, that we're going to impose something on them that is going to cost them ...  cause them to raise the expense on the taxpayers of that district.  I'm not going to do that, even though I know in my mind in the long run it's going to save them...  save them some money.  And I...right now I'm going to...  I'm supporting the Bromm amendment, or something to that effect.  And, with that, I will give the rest ...  the remainder of my time to Senator Bohlke.  I believe we've come to some kind of an agreement here, and I'll have her explain that.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bohlke, would you yield?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes.  Thank you.  There's been some discussion with Senator Bromm and Senator Wickersham.  I had the opportunity, and Senator Bromm and I had the opportunity to discuss if he was open to the fact of including what Senator Wickersham wanted to do, and he had indicated, yes.  I had ...  that was also suggested that the School Finance Review Committee actually make the recommendation because we did give them the duty to analyze the costs.  I think that we have people on that who work with this.  But I think Senator Bromm is correct in that then we would come back and actually have before




us an analysis of the costs and the recommendation from the Department of Education rather than right now estimating what we've got, unless it would actually be an estimate from the companies.  It will delay, probably for a year.  That would be my only concern, becauee I do think it's going to help schools actually in their attempt sometimes to get people and public support for if they want to do an override.  But looking at that it is a big step, it would give time to really do an analysis, it comes back to the Legislature, we then look at and approve or disapprove.  And so I said I think we're going ...  we're heading down the same track, it was just how we were going to get there.  I think Senator Bromm has his light on, he can indicate...  I think he has said he is supportive of what Senator Wickersham wants to do.  I am very supportive of that and making that easily accessible to the public.  And in the end I wasn't interested in a plan by the state- Department of Education, and I think that was just words, I think we were wanting the same thing, we were just using different words, an analysis after they do the bidding process and see what's available, and look at devising their own.  Maybe they'll be able to do that in ...  you know, I would have my doubts.  I would think that something off the shelf will be more cost-effective, but we will know for sure after the analysis by the School Finance Review Committee.  So I think we're working on an amendment to that effect that will be ready in a moment.  And, with that, I think at that time we can have further discussion.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  One minute.  Senator Bohlke, your light is the next one on.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  I'll waive off.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Schellpeper.


SENATOR SCHELLPEPER:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members.  As I stated yesterday, I still have a concern with LB 1228.  1 do support the Bromm amendment or some form like that because I really am worried that after LB 806 passed last year, we don't need any more help for small schools.  I think LB 806 was about as much help as we can stand.  But any programs that we mandate cost money.  And it's not going to end there, it's going to be year after year after year.  And so I think we need to make sure




that, if we pass this bill, that it's not something that's going to eventually make our small schools not being able to compete and be competitive.  So I think that maybe this amendment would help.  Anything that will help to not move so fast, I think we're moving it just a little bit too fast.  But mandated programs for education, under the budgets they have now, are not something they can afford to do.  So we need to be very careful about what we're doing.  I will listen to the ...  yes, Senator Janssen wants some of my time, he will ...  I would relinquish, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, I would give Senator Janssen my time.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Janssen.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Thank you, Senator Schellpeper, members of the Legislature.  I just ...  my staff made a phone call to Fremont to see if she could get some information on the cost of the system that they put into place.  The total cost of implementing this in a school the size of Fremont, it's a pretty good size system, was $9,593.  That was for implementing the whole system.  And the annual maintenance cost has been...  is quite low, $450 a year to...  on the maintenance of the system through ...  for a yearly basis.  So, with that, I just wanted the body to know that, that the cost really isn't as high as I thought it would probably be, the start-up costs.  So possibly we can ...  we can ...  with Senator Bromm's amendment, we can find a cost that would be a little less.  But the business manager told me that it's not really a one-size-fits-all situation.  He said that some of the smaller schools would have a ...  would have a problem with the exact same study that they, that they have initiated.  Thank you, Senator Schellpeper, for the time.  I'll return ...  the rest of the time I will give back to the Chair.




SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I guess some of the questions that I would continue to have, if we were to go ahead and implement the system that we are talking about in this amendment, would be how many schools are compatible with respect to their present accounting systems and software or hardware?  Senator Janssen, would you yield to a question?




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Janssen, would you respond?


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Yes, Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Senator Janssen, in coming up with that cost, do you know If Fremont had to get any different hardware or software, or whether theirs was compatible?


SENATOR JANSSEN:  I'm sure that that is included in this cost, Senator Bromm, uh-huh.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay.  But, if they had to, it's included in that?




SENATOR BROMM:  And I ...  we probably.....


SENATOR JANSSEN:  I think that's, Senator Bromm, I believe that that annual maintenance includes any software changes.


SENATOR BROMM:  Right.  We have school systems, as it was pointed out to me by another senator, who have an accounting system, and some of them are paying for it over a three, four, or five-year period of time, and there may be one or two years into paying for that system.  I would have questions like, is that going to be compatible with an overlay of the Coopers Lybrand system or whatever system that we develop?  And that's why.  the amendment that I am proposing and I think Senator Bohlke and I and ...  and others, who have been talking about this..  are agreeable to an amendment which is being drafted, which will preserve the language in my amendment, which says that we're going to ...  we're going to ask for an analysis.  We're going to ask for an analysis by the School Review Finance Commission, which is a little bit broader-based group than just the Department of Education.  There are representatives of large and small schools on that commission, Senator Bohlke is on that commission.  And with the help of the staff from the Department of Education, we'll ask them to come back and give us an analysis of instituting a uniform financial reporting system and what the alternatives are for doing that, whether it be commercial vendor, or whether they can develop it through the




department themselves and what the respective costs are, not only to the department and to the state, but to the schools, to the school districts that are involved.  And so, hopefully, that amendment will be done fairly soon and we'll be able to consider that.  And that would require them to come back to this Legislature again, like December of '98, with a report of their analysis and give us a chance to reflect and respond to that so that we know again the size of the ...  of the ...  of the cliff that we're jumping off of, and what exactly it's going to cost us, and whether or not our districts are going to be able to be compatible with the alternative that is presented to us.  And I ...  I ...  I know we're in a short session, and I'm sorry to take this much floor time on this topic, but I do feel it's important, I do think that the information that we're asking for is good information, have no quarrel with that.  But I want to be sure that we're not doing things in a way that we're going to require additional costs at a time when some districts are finding -dollars very, very hard to find.  And so to be consistent with our state initiative of trying to lower costs' for schools and lower property tax,...




SENATOR BROMM:  ...  I want to know what we Ire doing, if we're going to require it as a mandate.  Did you say, tithe, Mr. Speaker?


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  I said, one minute.


SENATOR BROMM:  Oh, okay, thank you.  We know ...  we have an idea of what it's going to cost on a statewide basis for the state, the 2, 2.5 million dollars which is really amazing to me.  Senator Janssen's figure of $9,000 sounds pretty conservative.  I don't know why it should cost us 2.5 million, but there might be good reasons for that.  In any event, if we get the amendment and we're able to work that out, it will provide us an opportunity, I think, to reflect on the information a little bit further before we decide which way to jump.  Are there any other lights on, Mr. Speaker, following mine?


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Yes, Senator, there are.




SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Before we move to the next speaker, Senator Raikes is proud to announce he has the following guests visiting the Legislature, they are Dan Bontrager, Adam Petersen, Christopher Gustafson, Aaron Nelson, Anneke Gustafson, and Nick Thorson, from Mead FFA, and they are under the north balcony.  Would you please stand and be recognized by your Legislature.  Thank you for being with us.  Senator Matzke.


SENATOR MATZKE:  Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislature, Educable is a wonderful thing, we're being watched all over the state of Nebraska.  I just got a telephone call from a superintendent way out in western Nebraska who is troubled by this bill and this proposal.  He's the superintendent of a K-12 system.  They have an accounting system,.  called Fund Accounting Data Team, and it requires a four-year payout for it.  They're only into their second year of paying for it.  Senator Bromm has referred to the fact that there are other districts.  the best information I have is that there may be as many as 100 districts in the state that have this same program and a number of ESUs.  So I, while I strongly support the idea advanced by Senator Bohlke in this bill that the accounting system should be uniform between all districts, I think we have to realize the practicality of it, and that is that school districts have accounting systems, they aren't all the same, some of them are paying for them over a term of years, and we don't want to just chop off that...  those programs and make them pay double.  Now my understanding is that Senator Bromm and Senator Bohlke are in the process of working out a practical solution to this issue.  I'll wait until we see that amendment in detail, but as it stands now I would support the Bromm amendment.  Thank you.  And I want to yield the rest of my time to Senator Janssen, who has...Senator Janssen.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Janssen, Senator Matzke would like to yield you the remainder of his time, that's approximately three minutes.


SENATOR JANSSEN:  Thank you, Senator Matzke.  I need to...I need to clarify something, I misread some figures.  I had said that the total cost of implementing the Coopers Lybrand in the




Fremont School System was $9,593.  That was incorrect.  The total cost was $6,643.  1 just wanted to clarify that on the floor to get it correct for the record.  Thank you, Senator Matzke, for the time.  I'll give the remainder of the time to Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Senator Janssen.  We have an amendment Senator Bohlke and I worked on that's making its way to the Clerk.  And it will be photocopied and distributed, and then I think we'll have a better opportunity to explain it.  If the body feels that we can go this route, I think we'll have a possible solution to where we're at right now.  So, unless Senator Janssen wants his time back, I'll ...  I'll yield the rest of the time back to the Chair.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Wickersham , would you entertain a motion to recess us at this point.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  One of my limited opportunities again?  Does the Clerk...


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Bef...  I'd like you to make that motion after the Clerk has read some items for the record, please.


CLERK:  Mr. President, new A bill.  (Read LB 1333A by title for the first time.) And Senator Chambers has amendments to (LB) 1041 to be printed.  That's all that I have.  (See page 922 of the Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Thank you, Mr. Clerk.  Senator Wickersham.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Mr. Speaker, I would move that we recess until 1:30 p.m.  this date.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the motion.  All those in favor of recess say aye.  Those opposed say nay.  We Are in recess.








SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Good afternoon and welcome back to the George W.  Norris Legislative Chamber.  Senators, would you please check in so we can begin this afternoon's business.  Roll call.


CLERK:  I have a quorum present, Mr. President.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Thank you, Mr. Clerk.  Any items for the record?


CLERK:  Mr. President, I do.  Enrollment and Review reports LB 320A and (LB) 404A as correctly engrossed.  Business and Labor Committee reports Lb 1362 to General File with amendments.  I have a confirmation hearing report from Natural Resources, and an announcement.  Natural Resources will again meet in Executive Session this evening at six o'clock; Natural Resources, tonight at six o'clock for Exec Session.  That's all that I have, Mr. President.  (See pages 923-24 of the Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Thank you, Mr. Clerk.  We will now resume debate on LB 1228 on the committee amendment.  Senator Cudaback.  Well, excuse me, Senator, Mr. Clerk.  Senator Cudaback, before we move to you, I understand there is an amendment on the bill.  Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Senator Bromm, may I assume, Senator, that the amendment you were discussing this morning you now would like to withdraw and offer...


SENATOR BROMM:  Yes, Mr. Clerk, I would like to offer the amendment by myself and Senator Bohlke.


CLERK:  Mr. President, Senators Bromm and Bohlke would move to amend with AM3547.  (See pages 924-25 of the Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bromm, which senator is going to




open and handle it?


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay, I'll...


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bromm, you're recognized to proceed.


SENATOR BROMM:  Certainly, and I'll, I probably won't use all the time, so I'll let Senator Bohlke have part of it as well.  This amendment, which ha just been handed out on your desk, is AM3547, and what we've done here in Section 3 of the bill, on page 5, line 8, at the beginning of Section 3 where we say the State Board of Education shall require and provide a financial reporting system, et cetera, it would now read, "The State Board" would be stricken, and it would read, "The School Finance Review Committee with assistance from the State Department." And then instead of...  instead of requiring and providing a financial reporting system, it will say "will complete a feasibility study and make recommendations for a financial reporting system." And then we would insert that they will report the results of this feasibility study and the recommendations to the Education Committee of the Legislature by December 1 of 1998.  So what we have done here is to take out the language which would presume that we're going to require and provide a financial reporting system along the lines of all the factors that are listed in Section 3, and provide that the School Finance Review Committee, which is a committee...  I was gathering my information on the composition of that committee, and Senator Bohlke probably knows it off the top of her head but I know she is on that committee, and there's a representative of large schools and small schools and other people.  Maybe we can get that information for the Legislature before we are done discussing this.  The idea of this is that this will make this feasibility study the object of this section of the bill, and the report of that feasibility study will come back to us.  We can digest that, determine what action, if any, that we need to take in the 1999 session in response to that, and this will give us an opportunity to review the impact on all of the various sizes of schools, various methods of accounting that they have now, and determine whether this is ...  what the proper course of action is.  Perhaps the analysis or study will conclude that we should contract with a commercial provider for a uniform system.




Maybe it will provide that the Department of Education has the means to develop forms that can be useful.  We don't know.  The point is that hopefully we will know after having the feasibility study.  And that pretty much summarizes the amendment that Senator Bohlke has cosponsored, and she probably has her light on, but if she would like to have the rest of my opening time, I'd be happy to yield it to her, Mr. Speaker.




SENATOR BROMM:  I would yield the rest of my opening to Senator Bohlke, if she would like it.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Yes, Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Yes, Mr. Speaker, members, I think that, as Senator Bromm indicated, we said earlier we were all on the same track, it was just how we were going to get there.  What this does is have an analysis actually brought back to the Legislature with a recommendation before a purchase is made.  Without this, we would have gone ...  had directed the state Department of Education to proceed with the purchase of the software, and so in one way it will probably delay implementation; but I think the strength of the recommendation is that it does allow the Legislature to have that more accurate analysis before making the commitment, and for schools to see that also.  Senator Bromm raised the issue of the School Finance Review Committee, and that committee shall be composed of representatives of state Department of Education, the Property Tax Administrator, the Legislative Council, and each class of district, an expert in school finance, and a member of the general public.  I think that the emphasis of a member of each class of school district and an expert in school finance is particularly important, especially in looking at how schools report their spending, and certainly the issues raised with how it may be different for a Class I as opposed to a Class III or a Class IV or a Class V.  You have representatives from each of those school districts on that committee and so they can have input into making sure, as we move in this direction, that we Implement something that all districts will be able to do.  And so I support the amendment and ask for its adoption.




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Cudaback.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Mr. Speaker, members, it looks like we're kind of on track here again.  I talked with a knowledgeable person at noon and asked him about 1228, and lie said 1228 is probably a good bill but it does need a lot of work and a lot of talk and a lot of discussion to come up with some ideas and maybe some changes.  So it seems like Senator Bromm and Senator Bohlke are probably on track here.  It seems like we talk about cost, cost, cost, and I guess I ...  I really...  I am almost to the point where I don't want to hear those words anymore.  If I'd had lunch, I think I'd probably lose that lunch, but I didn't have any luckily.  So I won't mention that, but cost, cost, cost.  I think sometimes we're going to talk about what it does first, I mean is this for the students?  Is this for the school districts or whatever?  But we need to talk about what it does, then worry about the cost afterwards You know, -and I think it's important to not just worry ;bout the cost first because sometimes money, the more you spend, you're going to be better off, and I think this might be one of those cases.  I would like to ask Senator Bohlke a question, please.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bohlke, would you yield?




SENATOR CUDABACK:  Senator Bohlke, Senator Wickersham, I didn't see him here, I probably would have asked him but he alluded to the fact...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Oh, well, I'm....


SENATOR CUDABACK:  No, that's fine, but I think he alluded to the fact this morning, and he thought if some of the Class Is weren't prepared to handle via the mechanisms or the machinery to do this, that they be protected and covered by the Class HIS or IVs or whatever.  Would that...


SENATOR BOHLKE:  The primary district with whom they are affiliated, yes.




SENATOR CUDABACK:  Yes, so the Class Is can't get hurt, in other words, and they would be taken care of by the larger.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Right.  They would be able to use the expertise of that larger district , and if they didn't have the hardware would be able to use that...




SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  to access the information.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  And that is spelled out, that?


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, yes, because they are a system.


SENATOR CUDABACK:  Oh, okay, and it is the system we're talking about?




SE14ATOR CUDABACK:  Yeah, good.  You know...  thank you, Senator Bohlke.  You know, sometimes we think we're alone here, and I think this morning here with Senator Matzke receiving this call here from some district clear out west, we forget perhaps that we do have people watching and they are very concerned.  In the old days, we didn't have this.  They could ...  they received their information via a newspaper and so on, but now it's quick, boom, and they hear this, and they want their input, and that's good.  So I think we have to maybe make our definitions and our...not that we have to but I think we should make it clear to the people listening that, hey, we're here for everybody here, and let's make our definitions and so on a little bit clearer.  Not that they haven't been, but I just think need to keep that in mind here to maybe a little more detail on what we're doing and how we're going about it.  Because just out of experience this morning, Senator Matzke did receive this call and we all know when we receive calls, you know, we listen, you know.  That's just the way it is.  So I appreciate that.  And I appreciate Senator Bromm and Senator Bohlke and Wickersham working this out.  Thanks.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bromm.  Senator Bromm, you are




recognized to close.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I am having trouble with my ears distinguishing between myself and Pam Brown lately and so I was thinking Pam was going to jump into this discussion.  So, excuse me, for not being ready.  I'm grateful to Senator Bohlke and I should also may that Senator Raikes I think had some good input on working this amendment out, and so I think it will be good.  I don't think we're ...  we're getting off track as far as wanting to move forward towards getting some uniform information across the state that will be beneficial.  But we're...hopefully, we will realize more of what the implications are for each of our districts by taking this first step of having the School Finance Review Committee do an analysis of the type of system that we should be implementing.  I am passing out to you, the School Finance Review Committee is not something that gets a lot of publicity, and many of us probably don't even know who is on it.  So I've got a list that's coming around to you and they are' appointed by the Governor, with the exception of the legislative representative, Senator Bohlke, who is appointed by the Executive Board of the Legislature.  But there is an individual from Gering and one from Valentine, Lincoln, Omaha, Kearney, Loomis, Lincoln, Omaha, Lincoln, and then Senator Bohlke, of course, and Russ Inbody from the Department of Education.  So there is some diversity on that committee, and it's my hope that they will take into account not only the needs of education in this area, but they will also consider the unique characteristics of the diverse districts that we have throughout the state of Nebraska, from the smallest to the largest.  And if they can find a system that all of those various sized districts can tie into to provide this information electronically or otherwise, I'm most supportive of that.  And so we will see what develops.  I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I would ask for the adoption of AM3547 .  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the closing.  The question before the body is the adoption of the Bromm-Bohlke amendment to this division of the divided question.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Please record.


CLERK:  27 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President,.  on adoption of the




Bromm-Bohlke amendment to the committee amendments.




CLERK:  I have nothing further to this component of the committee amendments, Mr. President.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Debate on this component.  Senator Bohlke, you're recognized to close on this segment of the divided question, being Section 3.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members.  I think we've had a very good discussion.  I think in the end we have something that is very workable, and we have talked about cost, but that's what this division is about.  I would remind you that the entire bill is divided into five sections, and this is the only section that is really dedicated to looking at a cost analysis.  And, you know, we've had the opportunity to discuss philosophy of education on a number of the other things that...and all the other divisions, and Senator Matzke did have a call from a school district.  One thing that's important for them to realize is this is not an accounting program.  This is an overlay.  And so I think that school districts who are listening would have to understand this is, when we eventually get to it, this is not an accounting program, but it's an overlay.  And so it would not really replace an accounting program that they may have in place or a contract that they may presently have in place.  But I think that with the School Finance Review Committee, we told you of the broad representation and the expert in school finance that serves on that, plus a representative from the State Board of Education, that that's the proper group to make an analysis of the programs out there and bring back a recommendation to the Legislature.  So with that, I ask for your adoption of this section of the bill.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the closing.  The question before the body is the adoption of the fourth segment of the divided question, which is Section 3.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Please record.




CLERK:  27 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of this component of the committee amendments.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  This portion is adopted.  We next move to the final division, which, Mr. Clerk, would you identify those please.


CLERK:  Mr. President, the final division, FA549, consists of Sections 1, 6, 7, and 8 of the original committee amendment.  (See pages 925-29 of the Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bohlke, you're recognized to open on the final division of the committee amendments.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Mr. Speaker and members.  This actually is a more technical division.  We have made the decisions on the other parts of what we're doing on the bill.  This just allows the mechanism for distributing the funds.  And so that's the this division in the bill main reason, this, we had to have because of a technicality in the ...  one of the other divisions that made the actual distribution of the lottery funds have to be a separate division.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Debate.  We, Mr. Clerk, have an amendment.


CLERK:  Mr. President, I do.  Senator Witek would move to amend this component.  Senator Witek, AM3442, Senator.  (See page 895 of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR WITEK:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker....




SENATOR WITEK:  ...  members of the Legislature, if you look on page 10 of amendment 3320, lines 16 through 20, and throughout the rest of this division of the amendment, or this portion of this amendment, what I've done is strike the language calling for how the lottery proceeds will be broken up, I guess.  When I filed this amendment, and I still do have concerns that what we are saying is first the lottery money, the first 10 percent of the lottery money will go over to the mentoring program, or up to 10 percent of the lottery program (sic), and I think we had




some discussions, if you will remember, on the mentoring section of the bill as to what would happen after...  if it went...  if costs were more than 10 percent, and I think most of us understood, at least I did, that then I would imagine the money would come out of General Funds to fund this program over in the Department of Education.  My concern is that we will be spending more general dollars bringing this bill to fruition than we are spending now.  If you look at the amend ...  at the fiscal note on 1228, this is going to be a lot of money, millions of dollars a year to implement this bill, and I know, Senator Cudaback, you don't want to talk money, money.  But this is a lot of taxpayer dollars on this bill, and millions of dollars a year on the .testing or the reporting requirements of the bill.  And if this in really a program to disburse lottery funds, at least this section on the mentoring program to disburse lottery funds, or we are going to use this as that portion of the bill, then I would be much more comfortable if we would keep the cost of this program within just the lottery money, just as it is now.  We don't add on General Funds to any of these grant areas out of our General Funds now into the disbursement of the lottery funds, so I am not sure why we needed to change this.  This is, I hope, drafted to be able to do this, and taking this out of the bill, that's what this amendment does, would just say whatever the costs are for the mentoring program will be paid for out of the lottery funds, and then whatever is left will be given to the grant money for the different tier structure for the schools, and then the rest of this section of this amendment said if anything is left over, then it will go into grants that the Governor would give out.  I don't suspect, if a lot of schools qualify for the mentoring program that there will be much money, if any, left over, and none of us have any idea what the cost will be for the training of the mentor program.  If you look at the fiscal note on LB 1336, it's also in the millions of dollars.  So I'm not sure we've allocated enough in this first 10 percent portion of the lottery money to cover that program.  So I think it would be better to just kind of take this language out of here, allow lottery money to be used for the mentoring training program and the grants, and let that go ahead.  And whatever those costs are, keep it within the context and within the framework of the lottery money.  If they have less money after they pay for the training, then the grant disbursement will be less.  If they have more money, then you can go ahead




with the money that you have in the grant program and then go ahead, I don't think we need to change the procedure to have the Governor go ahead and hand that money out in grants.  So this was my concern when I filed this amendment that if we say only 10 percent or up to 10 percent can be used for this mentoring program, and it turns out to be more expensive than that, that we're going to have to take more money out of General Funds to go ahead and fund this bill, and I didn't want to do that.  I want to keep the cost of this bill within, or at least this portion of the bill, within the amount of money that we have in the lottery fund, and that's what this amendment would do.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Debate on the Witek amendment.  Seeing no lights, Senator Witek, you're recognized to close on this amendment.


SENATOR WITEK:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I hope you're looking on page 10 of AM3320, on lines 17 through 20, where it says, first, the lottery disbursement, first, up to 10 percent will go to the mentor teacher training program pursuant to this bill.  After that 10 percent is taken out, the next amount of money will go to giving out the grants for those schools that would qualify, and if there is any money left over, that the Governor would go ahead and disburse that money.  We haven't said anywhere in the bill if the training program overruns the cost of 10 percent of the lottery disbursements, which would be somewhere around $900,000, if it costs more than that, where we will get the money to go ahead and finish paying for the training program at the Department of Education, but we are saying that we have to have this training program in the Department of Education, and that they have to go ahead and do that.  We just aren't telling them where the money will come from if it costs more than this 10 percent of the lottery fund.  So I see no reason to go ahead and say it should cost...  if it costs more than 10 percent, kind of leave that blank, and what my amendment does is just say, when you're disbursing the lottery funds, whatever the costs are for the teacher training program, you'll go ahead and pay that out of the lottery fund.  Whatever is left over out of those lottery funds will go to the schools that qualify for it, and it still remains that if there is any money left over, after all these funds are disbursed




through this mechanism, that it will go into the grant program.  So I would ask for the adoption of this amendment.  Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You've heard the closing on the Witek amendment to this division of the committee amendments.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Senator Witek, I am sorry, I can't und...  I can't hear you.  What's your request, please.


SENATOR WITEK:  A record Vote, please.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Witek has requested a record vote.  Have you all voted?  Please record.


CLERK:  (Read record vote.  See pages 929-30 of the Legislative Journal.) 7 ayes, 15 nays on the amendment, Mr. President.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  The amendment is not adopted.  Next amendment.


CLERK:  Senator Bromm would move to amend, Mr. President.  (See FA559 on page 930 of the Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Bromm, you're recognized to open.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  This amendment, which I believe has been handed out, is a little bit of a clean-up matter.  On page 10, you recall that we made the amendment...we adopted the amendment yesterday on providing that the mentor teaching portion of the funds would be hopefully used for paying for mentors to teach teachers and not for training mentors to teach.  So-this, on page 10, line 17, changes the wording where it says it will be used up to 10 percent for mentor teacher training, it would be up to 10 percent to fund the mentor teacher program.  So it makes this section of the bill consistent with the amendment that we adopted yesterday with regard to the direction we were going to fund the mentor teacher program.  That's Section 5 that we amended yesterday, on page 8, and fairly...  I'd say it's a clean-up amendment.  It doesn't change substantively I don't think anything in the bill.  If it does, that's not my intent to do so.  So ask for the adoption of the amendment.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Debate on the Bromm amendment.  Seeing no debate, Senator Bromm, you are recognized to close on your amendment.


SENATOR BROMM:  Simply ask for the adoption of the amendment, Mr. Speaker.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  You heard the closing.  The question is, shall the Bromm amendment be adopted to the final portion of the committee amendments?  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Please record.


CLERK:  25 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Bromm's amendment to the committee amendments.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  The amendment is adopted.


CLERK:  I have nothing further to this component, Mr. President.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Debate on the final portion of the committee amendment.  Senator Bohlke, you're recognized to close on this portion of the committee amendment, being Sections 1, 6, 7, and 8.  She waives closing.  The question before the body is the adoption of the final segment of the committee amendment.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Please record.


CLERK:  28 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of the fifth and final component of the committee amendments.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  We now move to debate on the bill, LB 1228.  Mr. Clerk, any items?


CLERK:  Just one.  Senator Witek, I understand you want to withdraw the last amendment I had from you at this time.  I have nothing further on the bill at this time, Mr. President.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Debate on the advancement of LB 1228.  Seeing no lights, Senator Bohlke, you are recognized to close on advancement.




SENATOR BOHLKE:  Mr. Speaker and members, I thank you for the attention and what I think has been a very good discussion.  I think it was helpful to have the division so that we could take each of the divisions and discuss them separately.  I think it gave everyone an opportunity to have a better understanding of the bill and the separate parts to it.  When I started out, I said that I look forward to a bill where I did not have to hand out a printout.  We did not have to look down and see how this was going to play for one school district or another school district, but we really had an opportunity to discuss programs that we thought would raise the quality of education in our schools across the state, and give schools the opportunity to apply, if they wish, for those funds from the lottery fund, and then have a great deal of flexibility to spend that money on innovative things for their district.  It is one of the few times that government does that, I think, that returns that, gives that funding or resource to a school district, and says, you've made good decisions, and as long as it fits under the umbrella of continuing of purchasing something that is innovative for your district, it's a recognition of the curriculum and that their commitment to offering programs to develop a quality education.  I ...  I think we've had a good discussion on a number of issues, from mentoring to statewide testing, certainly to the experienced teacher in the classroom, a number of issues, dropout rates, those things that are really important to education, and certainly important items in our public schools today.  I think it's been a very, very good discussion.  I thank you for your attention, and that concludes my closing.




SENATOR VRTISKA:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  We'll vote on the advancement of LB 1228.  All in favor vote aye, those opposed vote nay.  Record.


CLERK:  32 ayes, 3 nays on the advancement of LB 1228.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  LB 1228 advances.  Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Mr. President, LB 989, a bill originally introduced by Senator Coordsen.  (Read title.) The bill was introduced on