Weekly Legislative Update 3.16.15



From:        Jay Aronson

Date:      March 13, 2015

Re:          Legislative Update


This Week At The Capitol:

Last week I told you that Rep. Fleischmann requested specific information and data from CYSA in regards to funding, JRBs and how the micro SBDI program overlaps YSB programming.  This week that gathered information bore fruit (more on that in a moment). 

On Tuesday, the Children’s Committee reached its deadline and has now finished its business for this session.  The Committee can meet if any bills are referred to it by the either the House or Senate.

Wednesday may have been the busiest day of the session to date.  And that’s taking into account all of the budget hearings. Five major committees held public hearings on bills that were either controversial or of very high interest to several different interest groups.  Parking was at a premium as traffic backed up all the way to the highway off ramps!  The Environment Committee heard bills on pesticides, Public Health on e-cigarettes and the palliative use of marijuana, Planning and Development on the Speaker’s payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) bill, Judiciary on a gun bill and Education on various bills important to the Governor.  It was in Education where Erica Bromley provided written testimony on SB 1058, AAC Chronic Absenteeism. 

Thursday, however, was the most important day of the week for YSBs.  The Secondary Education sub-committee of the Appropriations Committee met with SDE to discuss in detail the Education budget.  There were nearly 20 major issues the sub-committee wanted to discuss with the Interim Commissioner and her staff, and of all those issues Chairman Fleischmann chose to open up his line of questions with….YSBs!!!!!!  THAT’s how high your stock has risen in the Capitol.  Not ECS, not Sheff questions, not the minimum budget requirement, not the education gap, not special education, YSBs!!!!  First question out of the box:  “Commissioner, why would we want to move the YSBs out of SDE to DCF?”  Her answer was the same stock answer she gave two weeks ago when questioned by the Education Committee on the Governor’s budget bill.  “We believe (read the Governor and OPM) that all Juvenile Justice services will fit better under DCF when the proposed moves from CSSD also happen”.  Here’s the bottom line:  for this sub-committee, moving YSBs from SDE to DCF is a non-starter.  In fact, to save the sub-committee time, Sen. Slossberg, the Senate Co-Chair of the sub-committee informed members that the move was not going to occur and therefore there was no reason for any other member to ask questions about the issue!!  All great stuff but I still wanted a member to ask about the actual CUT to your line items.  I caught Rep. Gayle Mulligan’s eye (R-Hebron, and one of your new best friends) and met her outside the committee room.  I spoke to her about the size of the cut and asked her to question the Commissioner about it because she was intimating to the sub-committee that the funding was simply transferred to DCF, not cut.  Of course, nothing is further from the truth.  Finally, by the end of the session, Rep. Mulligan did ask the question and was told that yes, the Enhancement Grant was in fact “zeroed out” and that while she didn’t know the exact number, the main Grant was also cut.  Rep. Mulligan reminded the sub-committee that the cut was somewhere between $700,000 and $800,000 for a total cut of $1.3 million.  Eyebrows were raised by several members including another supporter, Rep. Maureen Kokaruda (R-Madison) who was also made it known that she too is concerned about the cut. 

After the meeting ended, Erica, Michelle and I had an opportunity to chat with Rep. Fleischmann about some of the Commissioner’s assertions.  Erica explained that YSBs already do the majority of work that this SBDI program does for a lot less money!  Rep. Fleischmann requested some more data which Erica will get him.  He seems very interested in taking some of the proposed money from the proposed SBDI expansion ($1 million) and putting some or all of it back into the YSB line item!  I will of course, watch carefully as this unfolds.

As always, please contact me at your convenience should you have any questions or concerns about these or any other Legislative matters.  Also, please share this information with your members as you see fit.



Paying Too Much for Children’s Services, Not in Our Backyard
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