Mike Deshotels reports on what is happening in the Louisiana legislature.

Bear in mind that Governor Bobby Jindal proposed to “reform” taxes by eliminating the personal income tax and the corporate income tax, shifting the entire tax burden to the sales tax. This is a very unpopular proposal, which appears to have driven his poll numbers down into the mid-30s. It will also hurt the state’s public schools, as you will see in this post.

Jindal also plans to fund the voucher schools by taking money from the state’s Minimum Foundation budget for public schools, even though a state court has already declared it unconstitutional. Same for Jindal’s plan to pay for-profit course choice providers, also found unconstitutional but still in the governor’s budget. And predictably, Jindal’s allies will return with new ways to strike down teacher tenure, which was struck down by a state court a few months ago because the law addressed too many issues in the same bill.

Here is Mike Deshotel’s report:

From: Michael Deshotels
Sent: Monday, April 08, 2013 9:01 AM
Subject: Legislative update
Governor Jindal is kicking off the 2013 legislative session today at 12 noon and I am happy to report that it looks like his big tax reform proposal is in big trouble. The governor’s new tax proposal greatly increases state sales taxes and could end up depriving local school boards of a vital source of sales tax when local voters fail to renew local sales taxes to try to offset the high state sales tax. I hope that trouble spills over to the education area so that we will have a chance of stopping his destruction of public education.
The MFP: Several of you asked that I give you more details about why the legislature should reject the new MFP. Some of you have since supplied me with critical information including the changes to special education funding. So I hope the following gives you plenty of information about why we want the MFP rejected by the legislature and sent back to be reenegotiated with the stakeholders so that a more acceptable formula can be proposed.
1. The new MFP would remove the automatic growth factor in the MFP. Because of huge unfunded mandates in recent years, it is critical that the growth factor be reinstituted. Meanwhile many charter schools are exempted from paying their share of mandated costs such as the increased costs for retirement contributions. Just the increase in retirement contribution for unfunded accrued liability is a crippling drain on local school system. To add insult to injury, our DOE is forcing local systems to upgrade local computers and internet access just to take care of more state tests that are making the testing companies rich and are reducing student instruction time. (Remember the Governor refused the federal money for upgrading internet services because his favored private companies may not get the contracts)
2. The new MFP still provides funding for vouchers and the new course choice programs even though this has been ruled unconstitutional. Thecourse choice program allows out of state companies to raid the MFP while the student testing scores still go to their local home schools. These private companies can get paid even if the students do not attend regularly or learn nothing!
3. The new MFP begins a change to a new weighted formula for special education that is strongly opposed by all special education stakeholders because it may not provide adequately for some students individual plans and may penalize gifted and talented programs based on as yet untried tests.
Bills: Jindal’s allies in the legislature have filed bills that would find a way around the recent court rulings stiking down Acts 1 and 2 of last year. I will send more details on this later but for now I want to point out just a few important bills. You can read the bills just by clicking on the highlighted bill numbers.
SB 89 by Appel: Please ask your Senators to defeat this bill if it is brought up because it destroys all teacher due process and makes many teachers’ fate rely on a very innacurate evaluation system.
HB 160 by Reynolds: Please ask your representative to support this bill which will put off the evaluation system until the VAM can be reworked. (I hope VAM can be done away with because in my opinion it can never be accurate for all circumstances)
SB 41 by Kostelka: I am hoping we can support this bill because it will allow a vote of the people to make the State Superintendent an elected position. As it stands now, the Governor totally controls both the State Superintendent and the majority of BESE. The present system does not have checks and balances and allows a radical like Jindal who has other motivations to practically destroy public education. Again this would just let the general public vote on a constitutional amendment to make the position elected.
Please go to the Louisiana Legislature web site and click on the name of your Representative and Senator so you can get his/her local office phone number where you can leave him/her messages with his legislative assistant, or send an email. Just introduce yourself and make sure they know you live in their district and that you want their support on education issues.
Thanks in advance for your efforts,
Mike Deshotels