NCSBA Legislative Update – May 5 2017

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NCSBA Legislative Update – May 5 2017

NCSBA LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
MAY 5, 2017

 



CLASS SIZES AND STATEWIDE BOND

Now that HB 13 has been enacted into law, local school boards and education leaders are turning to the task of phasing in the K-3 class size reductions. For 2017-18, the highest average/maximum class size levels in K-3 will be reduced by 1 from current levels. In 2018-18, average/maximums will be reduced by between an additional 2-4 depending on grade level.

The need for districts to build additional classrooms to meet the new requirements will only add to what is an already staggering backlog of school construction needs (estimated at $8 billion statewide). This makes it even more imperative that school districts get a significant infusion of school construction funding through a statewide bond. Remember that both the Senate and House have filed bills to put a $1.9 billion statewide bond on the ballot for school capital needs (SB542/HB866). Those bills remain eligible for the biennium. As part of the effort to communicate how badly a statewide school construction bond is needed we would like to know how much classroom space LEAs are going to have to add to meet the new K-3 class size requirements. Please let us know how many additional classrooms your LEA will need to construct to fully implement the new K-3 class sizes requirements for 2018-19. If your LEA will be able to absorb the changes without needing to build additional classrooms just say that no additional classrooms are needed.
Please send the information to Sean Holmes at sholmes@ncsba.org.

REFORMING RETIREMENT BENEFITS

The possibility of overhauling how retirement benefits are paid out for future (hired on or after July 1, 2018) teachers and State employees was the subject of a legislative committee meeting this week. Legislation discussed (but not voted on) Wednesday, SB 467, proposes to change the retirement plan for future workers from a Defined Benefit to a Defined Contribution system. SB 467 also proposes no longer allowing retirees (hired on or after July 1, 2018) to access medical coverage through State Health Plan.

The current Defined Benefit retirement system provides teacher and State employee retirees with a guaranteed monthly income upon retirement. A Defined Contribution plan as proposed under SB 467 removes the promise of a certain level of monthly income upon retirement and instead sets up 401(k) retirement accounts that teachers/State employees could access upon retirement. Contributions to this account would come from both the employer and worker contributions and the money would be invested in various stocks and bonds.

Supporters of SB 467 who spoke at the meeting argue that the costs of providing retirees with a guaranteed monthly income as well as State-provided health insurance is too big a financial burden for the State. They cite an estimated $60 billion unfunded liability to the State and point to research that a defined benefit program and State-funded health insurance at retirement do not add extra incentive to bring people ages 20-35 into government service.

A few groups representing teachers and government retirees spoke to the committee about some problems with changing the system, arguing that in the end a Defined Contribution plan may not even save any money.

While no vote was taken on SB 467, it could come back up at any time in the 2017-18 session as it was not subject to last week’s “crossover” deadline.  It is also possible this language could appear as a provision in the Senate budget to be released next week (see below).

 

BUDGET UNDER DEVELOPMENT

It is expected that the Senate will release its State 2017-18 budget proposal early next week. Be sure to look for an email sometime in the middle of the week with a detailed analysis of the Senate’s budget proposal.

 

 

STATE BOARD OF ED NOMINEES

Governor Roy Cooper this week named three candidates to the State Board of Education to fill spots that opened on March 31, 2017.

Gov. Cooper re-nominated one of the current Board members whose term has expired- Mr. Reginald (Reggie) Kenan. Mr. Kenan is a sitting member of the Duplin County local board of education and would serve another eight-year term representing the Southeast Education Region (District 2) if confirmed.

Mr. J.B. Buxton has been nominated to replace Patricia Willoughby as an at-large member. Mr. Buxton has a number of years of experience in North Carolina’s public education system.

Ms. Sandra Byrd has been nominated to replace Wayne McDevitt as representative of the Western Education Region (District 8). Ms. Byrd is a retired UNC Asheville education professor.

These nominees still have to be confirmed by the General Assembly. Ms. Willoughby and Mr. McDevitt will continue serving on the Board until their replacements are confirmed.

To read more about each of these nominees click here.

CROSSOVER BILLS

The list of bills eligible for consideration for the remainder of the 2017-18 biennium has been whittled down by the passing of the crossover date. Attached is a list of the bills tracked by NCSBA that passed one chamber or the other and can thus move at any time over the rest of this session and the 2018 session.

Also note that finance and appropriations bills were not subject to the crossover date and can also move at any time.

 

Leanne E. Winner
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919)747-6686 direct dial

Bruce Mildwurf
Associate Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919) 606-3916 mobile

Richard Bostic
Assistant Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
(919)747-6677 direct dial