Education Spending Joint Hearing - April, 4, 2024

Chairman Conlon introduced the topic of the day, which was to solicit ideas from legislators about how to address the education crisis.

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Government Accountability (H.702) - April 4, 2024

Representative Boyden reported H.702 to the Senate Government Operations Committee on Thursday.

She noted there are two distinct sections of the bill:

  1. The creation of a Joint Oversight and Accountability Committee
  2. The establishment of a working group to review the State’s grant process
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Changes to Clean Heat Standard (S.305) - April 3, 2024

The Senate Natural Resources Committee got a first look at S.305 on Wednesday, which deals with changes to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) as we have profiled in other reports. Senator Bray described the bill to the Committee as “things all PUC related rolled into one bill.” It re-ups a three-year Energy Efficiency pilot program (but removes all oversight), provides “consistent funding” to said program, and updates key deadlines in the Clean Heat Standard (CHS).

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Education Spending - April 3, 2024

Chairman Conlon reviewed the House Education Committee’s “accomplishments” for the year, which, “if all goes well” would be four bills:

  • PCBs testing Pause,
  • BOCES, BOCES we hope organically grows scale and collaboration leading to cost savings we hope.
  • Community Schools FY funding,
  • School Construction program.

However, he noted, none of these addresses or responds to the “urgency many people are feeling, and the challenge in here is to be thoughtful, patient, well vetted” with regard to education spending. Many legislators are looking to put together a task force for the big problem(s) and who and what etc.

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Income and Wealth Distribution Report - April 3, 2024

Chairwoman Kornheiser introduced Stephanie Yu (Executive Director, Public Assets Institute) on Wednesday, saying they usually hear from them earlier in the session. Her presentation included a lot of data about the economic distribution coming out of Covid and how the ARPA funds prevented a worse recession. These funds “prevented what could have been a deep, lasting recession and reduced child poverty nationally from 2020 to 2021 by 46 percent,’ the report concluded.

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PCB Testing (H.873) - April 2, 2024

The Senate Education Committee got their first look at H.873 on Tuesday, which deals with school PCB testing. The House, faced with skyrocketing costs of the program and lack of funding and to determine whether to pause, discontinue, or shift to a universal school construction scheme. The bill they came up with does allow for continued testing, but limits funding and deadlines.

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Cooperative Education Services (H.630) - April 2, 2024

The Senate Education Committee reviewed H.630 on Tuesday. Chairman Campion requested a primer for “those of us who have not followed the bill” and what the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) is attempting solve or improve.

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VOTE: Miscellaneous Education Bill (H.874) - April 2, 2024

Representative Brady walked through the House’s miscellaneous education bill, H.874, on the floor Tuesday. The first four sections of the bill would task the Adult Education and Literacy Student Access Committee created last year with making recommendations. The bill also adds funding for the Community Schools pilot project from the Education Fund. Another important provision of the bill brings back a Universal Chart of Accounts (UCA) requirement for school districts so that policy makers can more easily compare the spending of two districts. The key difference in this version of the UCA is it does not mandate that all districts must use the same software, only that they use the same accounting standards and categorization.

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Act 250 Overhaul (S.311) - April 2, 2024

Peter Tucker (Advocacy & Public Policy Director, Vermont Association of Realtors) joined the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday to discuss S.311 and H.687 which both deal with overhauling Act 250. He was excited at the prospect of the “ways these two Bills will end up working together,” suggesting this is a “real opportunity” to reform land use and housing development. He acknowledged the work of the Summer Study Committee and the Natural Resource Board (NRB) and study of land use designations and the realtors association were participants in both.

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VOTE: Career and Technical Education (S.304) - March 29, 2024

Senator Weeks offered an amendment to S.304 on the Senate Floor Friday on behalf of the Committee on Education. The amendment was a strike-all which would provide students in grade six through eight with career enrichment and exposure to their regional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center. The bill also provides students enrolled in grades nine and ten a genuine opportunity to participate fully in pre-tch and exploratory career and technical courses.

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