The state Legislature begins its 2017 session today. This being an odd-numbered year, session is scheduled to last 105 days, with an April 23 adjournment date. Almost nobody believes lawmakers will finish their business by then, however, in which case the governor can call a special session (or a series of special sessions as the case may be).
Big issues on tap for this year include:
- Writing and passing a two-year state operating budget (the largest budget - it funds most general state government services and programs), transportation budget and capital (construction and maintenance of state facilities) budget.
- Agreeing on a plan to comply with the state Supreme Court's McCleary ruling and provide full state funding for K-12 basic education. The court ruled in 2012 that the state must fund all aspects of basic public education, and local school districts may only fund enhancements outside of basic education. The court's deadline for the state to comply with McCleary is 2018.
In the best of times, passing all three budgets on time can be tricky. In a year where major decisions must be made not only on how public schools will be funded and where the money will come from, but also how teachers will be paid, how much they'll be paid, how the state will enact accountability measures, whether school employee unions will continue to collectively bargain at the local level or whether collective bargaining will be with the state, how school employees will get their health insurance, and many other complex issues, it seems highly unlikely legislators and the governor could - or should - be done in 105 days.
As always, we'll keep you up-to-date with budget-related session news.