Joint Budget Committee

March 1, 2022


Jean We’re going to call Joint Budget to order. We got a lot to do this morning. First item on the agenda is the JBC Peer Subcommittee report. I think Mr. Representative Hodges has that report. You’re recognized, sir. 


Hodges Thank you, Mr. Chair. The Peer Subcommittee met on Wednesday, February 23. The subcommittee received reports, reviewed requests and approved the following items: various temporary appropriation increases, American Rescue Plan appropriation increases, and Shared Services appropriation transfer. I move for adoption of this report. 


Jean I have a motion to adopt the report and a second. Any discussion? All in favor, say aye. Any opposed. Mr. Anderson. 


Anderson Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We’re on Item B2, and this is for reporting only. It’s required through special language. Item B2 is Department of the Arkansas State Police report regarding the activity and condition of the Uniform Employee Health Insurance Plan. 


Jean This is report only. We’ll go to Item 3. Mr. Anderson. 


Anderson Mr. Chairman, Item B3. This is the Arkansas Securities Department. This is a quarterly report also, pursuant to special language. 


Jean OK, no questions on that report. We’ll go to Item 4.


Anderson B4. This is a contract disclosure for a representative. Since the representative is a partner of a organization currently serving a term– and he is currently serving a term as representative, this disclosure is required. 


Jean This is for disclosure only. No questions? We’ll go to number 5. 


Anderson OK. Mr. Chairman, Item B5. This is a request by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to amend their bill, Senate Bill 12. It has positions and special language. 


Jean We need to send this to Personnel and Special Language. All right, members. Hold on. All right, members, before we go any further, we have two hand outs. Has staff handed them out yet?  Let’s do the special language hand out first. And to do this, we need to suspend the rules. Motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Staff will hand out the hand out. All right. Do all the members have a hand out? If you don’t have one, raise your hand. Rep. Cavenaugh, you’re recognized. 


Cavenaugh Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair of the Special Language Subcommittee of Joint Budget met upon adjournment of both House and the Senate on Monday, February 28, in Mac A and made the following recommendations: the special language in the two bills listed on the report was reviewed. It is recommended for approval and the bills are released from the Special Language Subcommittee back to Joint Budget Committee. The special language in the 17 amendments on the report was reviewed and are recommended for approval to the amendment into the corresponding bills, and the amendments are released from the subcommittee back to the Joint Budget Committee. It is my understanding the sponsor of an amendment to SB 63 Department of Education would like to pull the amendment, Item number 6, KMW076 from the report and replace it with a new amendment. This will require suspension of the rules. 


Jean Do we have a motion to suspend the rules to pull this out? And a second? Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. 


Cavenaugh I move the adoption of the report with the exception of Number 6, Amendment KMW076. 


Jean All right, members, we have a motion to adopt the report except Senate Bill 63. We have a motion and a– that’s your motion– and a second. Any discussion? Representative Love, you’ve got a question?


Love OK, I’m trying to catch up. What, what item is, is what we’re pulling out? What, what does that do? 


Jean Item 6 Senate Bill 63 Department of Education. And we’ve got language that we’re going to take up after, after it’s pulled out and vote on it separately. 


Love OK. Mr. Chair, could you tell me just a little bit about what that bill has to deal with? 


Jean Mr. Anderson. 


Love I’m getting the amendment right now. 


Jean Well, hey, let’s get the rest of the packet out, then we’ll deal with it. 


Love OK. 


Jean All right. Then we’ll answer your question. All right. We have a motion on taking up the special language except Item 6, which is Senate Bill 63. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed? Excuse me, Rep. Eubanks, did I miss you? Go ahead. 


Eubanks Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I had a– I don’t know if this is the proper time to do this. I had a question about number 5. 


Jean All right, go ahead. 


Eubanks The, the amendment struck some language regarding state employees as being ineligible to be a trustee. And I was wondering if that was inadvertent or if that was intentional and if it’s standard for all higher eds to have the same language as to exclude these people from being a trustee. 


Jean Senator Davis, do you want to speak to that or do you want us to try to summarize it from up here? 


Davis Thank you, Mr. Chair. I can speak to it a little bit, but I’m happy to hear clarification from you guys as to whether or not it’s standard language. That was not my understanding. And in striking some of that language, our purpose– as many of you may know, it’s harder and harder to find people to fill positions on these boards. And like the way that we had it with the agricultural districts, which no longer exist, we were only able to pull from a pool of around 30 counties. So we were trying to just make it statewide. And we actually have some programs that are pretty strong, like our agricultural program, and we may have some Tech alum that are not eligible to fill the trustee position because maybe they work for the state in some capacity and it makes them ineligible. So really, our purpose was just to widen the pool of qualified applicants to serve on the board of trustees. And we found that we were running into issues with just little things like that where we knew people across the state could be an added strength. And so my intention was not to do anything that was out of the ordinary. It was my understanding that, you know, this was common. So I’m happy to hear clarification. 


Eubanks Well, that’s exactly what I’m wanting also. I just want to know if it’s standard procedure for other institutions of higher education. 


Jean Anybody here with Higher Ed? Identify yourself and attempt to answer that question. 


Fuller Yes, sir. Nick Fuller. I’m with the Division of Higher Education. I do not believe that with, with current boards and trustees that the statewide encompassing is standard. I’ll have to look for each one to get you some confirmation on that. But I do know with the instance of removing the agricultural district, that was limiting because there are no agricultural districts anymore. But, but I don’t have a confirmation for you that all of the other trustees have the statewide coverage. 


Eubanks Well, I just received a text from one university who says that U of A doesn’t have, doesn’t have this language either, but the rest of the universities do. So I guess if we already have that exception for one, I guess it really doesn’t make any difference. I just didn’t want us to be doing something that wasn’t consistent across the systems. Thank you, sir. 


Jean Thank you. All right. Have we handed out the amendment on Senate Bill 63 yet? It’s handed out? All right. We need a motion to suspend the rules to consider it. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All right. All in favor say aye. Any opposed? Mr. Anderson. 


Anderson Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The handout is for Senate Bill 63 Department of Education. It is by Representative Ray. This is for Succeed scholarships. You should have the handout in front of you, Mr. Chairman. 


Jean Rep. Ray, you want to speak on this or are you good? Are you at 11? OK, go ahead. 


Ray Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is the amendment that passed through Special Language yesterday. Just after consulting with a couple of members after the committee, we wanted to add in language to ensure that any unused funds would be returned to the department at the end of the fiscal year. 


Jean We’ve got several questions. So, Representative Chesterfield — excuse me, Senator Chesterfield, you’re recognized. 


Chesterfield Thank you, Mr. Chair. Is there any evidence that the amount of money that we’ve already allocated is not enough? 


Ray Yes. 


Chesterfield So tell me what the shortfall is. 


Ray Yeah, absolutely. So the shortfall comes from three separate issues. First, the scholarship, scholarship amounts for Succeed are tied to the foundation funding in education. So when funding for Succeed remains flat and education foundation funding goes up, there’s a lesser amount of scholarships that can be issued with the same amount of money. So that’s one issue. The second issue is that there’s one time funding that is expiring. And so if that funding is not replaced, there’s going to be close to 200 families that are going to experience a disruption and probably not be able to persist in the program, causing them to have to change schools this fall. And then the third problem is we know there’s a significant waitlist of families that are wanting to apply for the program, but the funds are simply not available. So thank you for that question. 


Chesterfield But you say that 200– how many families are involved in it already? More like– more important, how many students are involved? You’re saying 200 families, but how many students are involved in this? 


Ray Sure. There’s currently 628 students enrolled in the program. 


Chesterfield And you’re saying that 200 of those will not be allowed to be enrolled if this doesn’t pass? 


Ray Approximately 200. 


Chesterfield I grow concerned because we had said we were going to cap it at a certain amount when we agreed to fund the Succeed scholarship. And it continues to grow exponentially, which means then that, if we’re giving more money over here, then we’re giving less money to public education. That’s my concern. Thank you. 


Jean And Representative Ray, just keep you my hot. Senator Elliott, you’re recognized for a question. 


Elliott Thank you, Mr. Chair. I’d like, if you would, Representative Ray, explain what significant waitlist means? Did you– somewhere I thought you said that, but I’m not sure I got it. 


Ray Yeah, absolutely. So what I mean by that is when the Department of Education opens enrollment for the Succeed scholarship, the slots fill up almost instantaneously. I’m not embellishing when I say that the last time enrollment was open, all of the available slots filled up in less than an hour, between 30 and 45 minutes. You know, to use an analogy that I think a lot of folks in this room might appreciate, sort of like if Garth Brooks came to Simmons Bank Arena, those tickets would be gone instantaneously. So we know from– the department doesn’t keep a waiting list per se. Just when the funding fills up, they close enrollment. But I can tell you from contacts to the scholarship granting organization, there’s over 150 families that would apply immediately if funding were available. So thank you. 


Elliott So how do we know– or Mr. Chair, maybe somebody from the Department of Education– how do we know what the wait list is? Because, I mean, it’s– because it’s been filling up– you know, there’s a point of which Garth Brooks can’t– won’t fill up the arena. And so that’s, and that’s kind of what I’m thinking here. Are we– is– are we– are you trying to get something to the point that we can, there’s an indefinite number of people who can apply and just be funded or are we at some point going to say, here’s the cutoff? 


Ray No, senator, what we’re just trying– what I’m just trying to do is make sure that the, the number of individuals who are wanting to apply is met by the appropriate amount of funding. That’s all we’re trying to accomplish here. 


Elliott Mr. Chair, may I ask the Department of Education a question, please?


Jean Would the Department of Education come forward, please. Mr. Key and Mr. Rogers, y’all identify yourselves and then you can answer Sen. Elliott’s questions. 


Key Johnny Key, Department of Education. 


Rogers Greg Rogers, Department Education. 


Elliott I didn’t know I’d be the one who had the first question for you, secretary, when I saw you coming in and welcoming you. Can you tell me anything about a waitlist for the Succeed scholarship that the department is aware of? That might be helpful. 


Key Rep. Ray is correct. We do not keep a wait list. Once the number of allotted scholarships are awarded– with some exception, I mean, because it’s hard to find that hard stop– but once we have awarded all those, we do not collect and keep any additional qualifying students on a waitlist or anything like that. 


Elliott So when you say once we have filled the allotted, exactly what does that mean? 


Key That means the total dollar amount– 


Elliott The amount of money we have allocated? 


Key Divided by the– whatever the foundation funding is for that year. That gives us that target number of student scholarships that we would be filling. 


Elliott So right now, we have an allotted amount, and once that amount is gone, we’ll just– we just accept students based on that amount that we have now. 


Key Correct. 


Elliott And when it’s gone, it’s gone. 


Key Correct. 


Elliott Unless we are adding– 


Key Subject to– as there are students that come in and out of the system. So we’d– if students drop off, we do try to fill, you know, those slots. And so during the year there, especially around the semester, end of the first semester, there’s some transition that happens. But we try to keep it that, at that target level based on the funded amount. 


Elliott And finally, have we worked out any kind of accountability system for the success or non success for these scholarships? How is that–


Key Senator, it’s my understanding that under statute that was passed a few years ago, the next report is going to be discussed at the next Education Committee meeting on the Succeed scholarship program. We have been providing information to BLR on that. 


Elliott OK, so we pass this today, we don’t– we’ll get a report that will have no impact on whether or not we’re adding more money to something that we don’t know how it was performing. Would that be an assumption that seems to make sense to you or not? If we pass this today, we don’t have an Education Committee meeting until next week. We’d be funding something that presently, based on a law, we don’t know how it’s performing. Is that not correct? 


Key Yeah, I think you could make that statement. I also know that the– that report was designed, if I remember correctly, to help guide the committee on the, the next biennium. I will say, too, because I figure this question will come up– we’re showing 646. I think Rep. Ray mentioned 628, so we’re not far off, but again, that, that churn that happens within the system. And 161 of those were funded from the federal funds that Governor Hutchinson allocated. 


Elliott All right, thank you. Thank you both. Appreciate it. 


Jean Thank you, Senator. Representative Wooten, you’re recognized for a question. 


Wooten Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, how much is each scholarship? What’s the dollar value? 


Key $7,182 for this school year. 


Wooten In other words, it’s the same amount of money that’s being paid to the public schools. You’re taking it away to give to a private school. 


Key No, it’s not being taken away. It’s a different line item. 


Wooten Well, it’s a separate line item, but Rep. Ray just said as the foundation money increases, the scholarship money goes down. Is that right?


Key The number of scholarships would go down. Yes, sir.


Key OK. So basically, we’re taking taxpayers’ money and we’re paying it out to a private institution that we have no accountability for. We don’t know how they’re teaching, what they’re teaching. We don’t know the status of their school buildings. We have no enforcement authority whatsoever. Is that correct?


Key We have very, very limited enforcement regarding– anything we have is isolated to the scholarships under this program.


Wooten Okay, so you have funded 646, and Rep. Ray said there may be 200 people waiting, and, and we’re, we’re doubling the amount of money to 6 million. Is that what we’re asking for– you are asking for? 


Key Well, I think generally that’s what his amendment would do. Yes. 


Wooten So we’re, we’re funding– if I may, Mr. Chairman, I was–


Jean Go ahead. 


Wooten If, if we’re funding 646 with 3 million, why do we need 6 million to fund 200 if we’re only paying $7,000 per one?


Key Well, with the federal funds, you have to add that to the 3.3 million that’s, that y’all provided during the last session. So it’s actually 4.5 million this year with the addition of the federal funds. So I think that Representative Ray mentioned that he’s seeking to cover those students. 


Wooten You’re not answering my question.


Key I’m trying to, sir. It’s– you’re asking me if need to do this–


Wooten I’m asking you, I’m asking you why, why double the amount that we’re funding for just 200? 


Key I think he’s wanting to account for the additional funding from the foundation funding and for the 161 students that are being paid for with federal funds. And then I think he is seeking to expand the number of scholarships somewhat. I don’t know what that number would be. 


Wooten One more follow up, Mr. Chairman. 


Jean One more. 


Wooten 3.5 million has been given out, is that correct? That’s, that’s–


Key 3.3 is our line item, yes, sir.


Wooten And, and, and you’re saying– I understood that the law called for a report. This is following up on Senator Elliott. I understood we were supposed to receive a report from you about that, and we haven’t, we haven’t gotten that yet.


Key No, sir. That report comes from the Bureau of Legislative Research. We’ve been working with the bureau to provide information for that report. And that report will be– it’s my understanding, that report will be presented next week at the Education Committee. 


Wooten All right. So here, here we are again, one more time. I want to be sure I understand this. Foundation money is being used to fund private schools. That’s what this is about. 


Key Well, no, sir. This isn’t foundation funding. The law actually prohibits us from using any money allocated for education. So public school fund, adequacy, none of the funding streams that go to fund the foundation funding can be used for this. This is a separate line item funded through RSA. 


Wooten Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. 


Jean All right. Senator Hammer, you’re recognized.Are you in seat 60? Is that you? 


Hammer Yes, sir. 


Jean All right. 


Hammer To the agency first, if you would, please. Current amount is 3,300,000, correct? 


Key Yes. 


Hammer And that money will continue to go on if we turn down the additional request, is that correct? 


Key Yes. 


Hammer And the number of students, by your count, 646, is that correct? 


Key Yes. 


Hammer And you do or do not know how many have been declined availability to the Succeed scholarship because that’s not tracked. But will that come out in the report that the bureau is working on? 


Key I, I don’t know if that’s part of what’s in the report, senator. 


Hammer How do we get that number so that we know? 


Key The, the third-party group that administers the scholarships, The Reform Alliance, I think they keep a record of how many students are on their– what they call their waiting list. And we would just have to consult with them to get that information. 


Key OK. Mr. Chairman, may I wish to sponsor a question? 


Jean Go ahead. 


Hammer Thank you. Rep. Ray, do you know the number from Reform Alliance as to how many are on the waiting list that are not able to get Succeed scholarships now because of lack of funding? 


Ray Yes, Sen. Hammer. Approximately 150 is the number that I’ve received from the scholarship granting organization. So I just want to reiterate in response to your question because I think it’s getting glossed over through some of these questions. There’s three layers that, that feed into this issue. The first is that the amount of the scholarship, not the scholarship– where the funds come from, but the amount of the scholarship is tied to the amount of the foundation funding. And so when the foundation funding goes up but the Succeed scholarship funding stays flat, a fewer number of scholarships can be issued. So there’s there’s approximately 20, 21, 22 students who would not be able to persist in the program if the funding remained flat. Additionally, there’s one time funding that serves– I think Commissioner Key said 168 students that, that would not, would likely not be able to persist in the program. And then you’ve got the waiting list on top of that. That largely accounts for the amount being requested in the amendment. 


Hammer So the 3,300,000 then is not going to be a number that will continue to go on because of, the because of the two issues you cited out of the 3 or is the 3– million 3 going to remain– 


Ray No, that, that 3.5 million would still be there. The problem is it would serve far fewer students. So instead of, instead of 640 some odd students, you know, there would be approximately 200 fewer students on the program. 


Hammer All right. And the justification between the 3.3 and the 6.3, though, is based on the loss that is going to have to be added in order to accommodate those students that are otherwise going to lose it plus the 150 that the Reform Alliance have estimated that are sitting out there that do not have access to it. Is that how you arrived at–


Ray Yes, it’s based on all three of those factors. 


Hammer OK. And then the last question is this: of those that are currently, the 646 or your number 628, do you know how many of those are foster kids? Because the law was changed several years ago that would allow for foster children to have access to this funding. Do you know what, what the number of those students are? 


Ray I do not know the breakdown on that, but I know from speaking with leaders who work in foster care that they would very much support this being increased because there are foster children whose families want them to participate in the program, but, again, the available slots are filled and so they cannot at this time. 


Hammer And that report is going to show– Secretary Key, that report is going to show the effectiveness, the efficiency, the pass rate, all the things that the public schools are held accountable to. Is that going to be included in that report or do you know that? 


Key Not to the same degree. I mean, there’s limitations as to the information that we’re able to get from the private schools. But the tests that they use, whether nationally norm tests, what type of tests they are, I mean that information is going to be provided. I’m not sure about actual achievement rates or performance rates on those exams. 


Hammer Succeed’s been around a while. Do you know, based on previous reports or previous information obtained, that the students are performing any better than the– where they were before? Thank you, Mr. Chair, I’m done. Thank you. After he answers. 


Key Anecdotal. I mean, from parents, parent comments that they are doing better. But we don’t have any hard data that would signify either way. 


Hammer OK, thank you. 


Jean All right. Members, we got a lot of questions, so if your question has already been answered, don’t ask it again. Senator Ingram, you’re recognized. 


Ingram Well, let me think of a new question. You know, I had– is there–I took from Representative Ray’s first, but then I heard you say there’s a third party administrator. Originally, the way he stated it, I, I was under the misconception that, that the applications for this came through ADE. But we have a, we have a third party administrator, The Reform Alliance, that does this? 


Key Scholarship granting organization, I think, was the correct term Rep. Ray mentioned. And it’s called– it’s the Reform Alliance, and they work with us on the application process. The checks that actually go out are written– have to be written to the parent and to the school both. I mean, so both parties have to be involved in endorsing the checks for paying the tuition. 


Ingram Senator Hickey, the utility and rent assistance, we should have come over to ADE for that recommendation. 


Key We appreciate the thought, but I think we have had quite enough. 


Ingram So what does the Reform Alliance– what is the percentage of money that they get for handling this? 


Key They don’t get any. 


Ingram They get zero. 


Key They’re not allowed to keep any money from this. 


Ingram Okay. So is there any concern on the part of ADE regarding doubling this money before we have a report to see whether– I mean, we’ve got a report coming next week. Is there any concern about doubling this money before we get this report? 


Key We’ve not seen any issues that would create caution for us. We’ve worked very hard to– on the processes for applications, processes on disbursements, processes on auditing, processes on making sure that the money’s going where it’s supposed to go. And we have not– we do not see any issues at this point with the process. I think the volume– because that’s what you’re talking about with adding money is the volume of scholarships. It’s to a point where I think to administer the program internally, we’re having to look to maybe– not, not add positions– not add positions, Rep. Wooten– but getting some help to the office that gets, that processes those. That’s the only concern that we’ve had. And obviously just operationally, we’ve worked pretty hard to get it streamlined. 


Ingram Thank you, chair. 


Jean Thank you, Senator. All right. We’re going back to second time around. Senator Chesterfield, you’re recognized. 


Chesterfield Thank you, Mr. Chair. The impression seems to be that if these kids don’t get into this program, they don’t have services. There’s not a single service that they provide that public schools don’t already have, is there?


Key That, that’s correct. I mean, the services– its, its– school districts provide– are required under law to provide services to children with special needs, so they are accessible. 


Chesterfield And they have to be held accountable. They have to provide– at the end of the year, there are all of these– all this paperwork, which is precluding some folks from going into special ed that they have to fill out. Do they have the same requirements with Succeed? 


Key No, they do not. 


Chesterfield They do not. So as we’re sitting here, we’re seeming to say that if these kids don’t get into this program, there’s no program available. I worked in a CBI program where kids couldn’t even talk. They had to have people who come in to change diapers. We offer every level of service in the public schools that any private entity would offer. Is that correct? 


Key That is correct, yes. 


Chesterfield Thank you very much. 


Jean All right, Senator Irvin, you haven’t had a question yet. You’re recognized. 


Irvin Just quickly, I know that there are several organizations that received a lot of money through the Esser funds that also received administrative fees that they were able to collect. Can you name some of those? 


Key What– I mean– 


Irvin That are outside, outside organizations. 


Key Well, we can get you the list. I mean, there are a number of organizations that have received grant, grant funding. I’m not sure–. 


Irvin They receive grant funding? 


Key Yeah, I’m not sure exactly how to answer your question. With, with the Esser funds through the three different versions,Esser 1, Esser 2, and ARP Esser, a number of organizations have received funding that was tied to the goals of the federal legislation. 


Irvin Right. But in that, in that, were they able to keep some of the money for themselves to be able to administer those grants? 


Key I see what you’re saying. There would be some indirect costs that would be associated with that for those organizations. 


Irvin So the answer would be yes. They did receive the ability to keep part of that Esser money for administrating– 


Key For staffing. 


Irvin For staffing, for some of the grants they administer. So this is not outside of the norm that an outside organization would be involved in a similar situation. Is that correct? 


Key That’s correct. In this case–. 


Irvin But out of the norm that they don’t keep any of the money for administrative fees.


Key Yes that’s what I was going to say, that that is outside of the norm that state funds are not– they do not– are not allowed to keep any of the state funds for indirect costs. 


Irvin Right. Okay. That– I just wanted to make sure I had that clarified. Thank you.  


Jean All right. Rep. Wooten, you’ve got the last question. 


Wooten All right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, I want to pursue Senator Chesterfield’s questioning a little bit. How do you know that a private school has the same level of education and offers the same program that public schools do? How do you know that?


Key We don’t know about the private schools because we don’t have access. 


Wooten Well, that was her question. 


Key Well, her question was about the public schools. Her question was, do public schools offer these services? And they do.


Wooten She made the point, but you said yes, they offer the same programs at private schools public does. So how do you know that? 


Key They offer the same or more, depending on the level of severity of the disability. 


Wooten Okay. So is it an economic reason– is it savings to ADE to have the Reform Alliance, an independent lobbyist group outside of the known, to use state money like this? Does it save ADe any money?


Key Well, it’s cost avoidance. There are costs that we do not absorb into the departmental budget because of that. 


Wooten Let me follow up. You said you do auditing and process, procedures, and look at things, and all that. How many people you got doing that over there? 


Key We have one person. 


Wooten One person?


Key Yes. 


Wooten One person oversees 626 scholarships?


Key She’s been doing it since it was probably a couple hundred scholarships. 


Wooten Well, let me ask you this. What are we going to do for the other 445,000 students in public schools? How are we going to help them more? I know we’re giving more funding. But every time we take a dollar away, that’s a dollar coming out of a public school. I don’t care whether it’s in your budget or in state revenue. That’s money we’re losing. $7,000 per student for 626. That’s 3.5 million, and I don’t think y’all have used all that. So what benefit is this on a percentage basis when you look at 445,000 kids that are going to public school?


Key I can’t give you that number. This was a public policy decision that was made to create this program. 


Wooten Do what now? 


Key This was a public policy decision made by this body a few years ago to create this program. So as far as percentage savings, anything like that, I mean that, that’s– we don’t– we’re not calculating that. It’s a school choice program for, for parents to pick where their kids go to get the services they need. 


Wooten Well, why do we use The Reform Alliance? Did they just come up and volunteer? 


Key They’ve been working in, in this environment, in this field for several years, and we were confident– there wasn’t any other choice of another organization out there. 


Wooten Are they working for private schools or are they working for public schools? 


Key Well, you’d have to ask them their assessment.


Wooten I figured that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 


Jean Thank you, Rep. Wooten. All right, we’ve got– y’all made a liar out of me. Y’all going to ask more questions. Senator Johnson, you’re recognized. 


B Johnson Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Director, is the School of Math and Science a private school or a public school?


Key It’s a special school. It fits, it fits into a different category. It is under the U of A system, so it’s connected to higher education. 


B Johnson Are those programs that are offered there, are they offered in a public school? 


Key The programs– well, I mean, it is a specific math science school modeled after many others in the country. So it is different than the offerings that typically happen in a traditional public school. 


B Johnson Are they held to the same standards as public schools? 


Jean Senator, all respect, what’s that got to do with Succeed scholarships? 


B Johnson We use general funds for that. 


Jean OK. I’m trying to figure out your line of questioning here. 


Key We don’t over– our oversight of Arkansas School of Math, Science and the Art is limited. They are subject to certain standards like public schools are. But they are a special school. I would say, fit in in a similar category is Blind and Deaf school. So we do have some special schools in the state that receive state funds. 


B Johnson How much in general funds would that school–


Key I would have to get that for you, Senator, I don’t have– 


Jean Could you get that information for the senator?


Key Yes, sir. 


Jean All right. I think– who’s in 14? All right, Representative Godfrey, you’re recognized. 


Godfrey Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just quickly, Secretary Key– over this way. To the point about public schools providing the special services that students require, students with special needs require, we’ve seen– the Education Committee during the adequacy study that our funding for special services in the public schools is lower than some of our peer states. Would you say that most districts and schools would say that if they– most public schools– if they received additional funding to enhance and improve their special services, that that funding would indeed– that enhanced funding would help provide better services for, for the students that are in their schools? 


Key Yes. 


Godfrey Thank you. 


Jean All right, members. Seeing no other questions, we need a motion to adopt the amendment on the Senate Bill. I have a motion. Do we have a second? Any discussion? All in favor say aye. All opposed. I’m going to say the ayes have it. Got three hands? All right. Let’s roll call it. 


Anderson Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We are role calling the handout by Representative Ray. Senate amendment to Senate Bill 63. Senator Elliott, no. Representative Shepherd, yes. Senator Chesterfield, no. Representative Eubanks, yes. Senator English. First alternate, Senator Tucker. Representative Holcomb, yes. Senator Mark Johnson. Representative Kenneth Ferguson, no. Senator Hammer, yes. Representative Flowers. Not seeing Representative Flowers, Representative Barker. Second alternate Representative Dalby. Senator Irvin, yes. Representative Jett, no. Senator Ingram, no. Representative Payton, yes. Senator Flippo, yes. Representative Hodges, no. Senator Blake Johnson, yes. Representative Tosh, not here. His alternate Representative Tollett. Senator Wallace, yes. Representative Cavenaugh, yes. Senator Hill, yes. Representative Gazaway. Senator Hendren, yes. Representative Love, no. Senator Hester, yes, Representative Magie, no. Senator Pitsch. Representative Evans– I’m sorry, Representative Eaves. I’m not seeing Representative Eaves. First alternate Representative Collins, no. Senator Davis, yes. Representative Scott, no. Senator Ballinger, yes. Representative Springer, no. Senator Leding, no. Representative Boyd, yes. Senator Teague, no. Representative Fortner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize. Senator Teague not being here, first alternate Senator Garner. Rep. Fortner, yes. Senator Flowers. Representative Coleman, no. Senator Clark. Rep. Penzo. First alternate Rep. McCollum. Second alternate Representative Cloud. Senator Sample, yes. Represent Penzo. Senator Stubblefield, yes. Representative Garner, no. Senator Hickey, yes. Representative Lee Johnson. Senator Rice, yes. Representative Wardlaw, no. Senator Bledsoe. Representative McNair, no. Senator Caldwell, yes. Representative Womack. Senator Rapert. Representative Evans. Evans is an aye. Thank you. Senator English, yes.  


Jean The motion– members, it had 24 votes in the affirmative. It needed 29 to pass, so it has failed. 


Dismang I’d like to make a motion to expunge the vote by which the amendment failed. 


Jean Alright. I have a motion to expunge the vote. Do I have a second? Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed? The motion carries. All right, members, we’ve got another hand out. Has it been handed out yet for Personnel? We need a motion to suspend the rules to take up this. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor, favor, say aye. Any opposed? Members, I’ll give a minute to pass out these handouts. If any member does not have a copy of the personnel report, raise your hand and we’ll get it to you. Everybody good? All right. Representative Wooten, if you’ll hit your request, I’m going to let you present the personnel report. You’re recognized. 


Wooten Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Personnel Committee met this morning, March 1, in Room A here in Big Mac. The committee reviewed the listed Governor’s Letters that you have a copy of and amendments and released them back to Joint Budget as adopted. The committee also reviewed items 5 through 12, which were regular business requests and report, with the exception of Item 9, which was held until the next Personnel meeting, which we intend to have in the morning at 7:30. And I’d be happy to entertain or answer any questions and move for the adoption of the report. 


Jean I have a motion to adopt the report. Is there any questions? Do we have a second? We have a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. The report is adopted. Members, we’re going to– hold on. OK, we got some bills that are ready after we reported– made these reports. Mr. Anderson, you’re recognized. 


Anderson Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The bills ready in the Special Language Report are Senate Bill 102.


Jean We need a motion do pass as amended. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor, say aye. Any opposed. It is adopted. Mr. Anderson.


Anderson Mr. Chairman, Senate Bill 103 is also ready. 


Jean Senate Bill 103 is ready. We need a motion amended as adopted. All right. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Opposed. It is adopted. 


Anderson Mr. Chairman, still in the Special Language Report in Item B, Governor’s Letter 7 is ready for adoption. That’s Item 3 that’s attached to that letter. 


Jean Okay. Governor’s Letter 7. Motion to approve as amended. Do we have a second? We have a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. It is adopted. 


Anderson Mr. Chairman, Governor’s Letter 10, which is associated with item number 4, is also ready for adoption. 


Jean OK, that’s Senate Bill 67. We need a motion as amended. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. Adopted.


Anderson The last one– the last– sorry, Mr. Chairman. The last one in the Special Language report is House Bill 1055. That’s Item 5 in the special language report. 


Jean All right. House Bill 1055. Need a motion do pass as amended. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed? All right, we ready to go to C now?


Anderson Well, I have the personnel report, too, Mr. Chairman.


Jean OK, let’s do the personnel report bills that are ready. 


Anderson Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In the personnel report, Governors– number one, Governor’s Letter number 8 is ready for adoption. 


Jean Senate Bill 13. Okay, Governor’s Letter Number 8. Motion. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. 


Anderson So that makes Senate Bill 13 ready for do pass as amended. 


Jean Alright, motion do pass as amended and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. That is adopted. Mr. Anderson. 


Anderson Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Item number 2 in the personnel report, Governor’s Letter number 9 is ready for adoption. 


Jean Governor’s Letter number 9. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. It is adopted. 


Anderson That makes Senate Bill 3 ready for a do pass as amended, Mr. Chairman.


Jean Senate Bill 33 do pass as amended. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. Mr. Anderson. 


Anderson The last thing– no, one of the last– there’s two more items. Governor’s Letter number 10 on Item 3 is ready for adoption. 


Jean Governor’s Letter number 10. And we have a motion in a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. It is adopted. 


Anderson That bill associated with it is not ready. It has more amendments pending. But Item 4, University of Arkansas at Monticello, is ready for a do pass as amended 


Jean Senate Bill 17. Do pass as amended. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. It’s adopted. Now we’re ready for C. Members, item one– this is Senate Bill 60. Representative Meeks is not here, but I’m going to run it for him. Mr. Anderson, do you want to explain it?


Anderson Yes, sir. On page 1, Item C in the upper right hand corner, this is by Representative Meeks. This is an amendment to Senate Bill 60 to the University of Arkansas system. This re-allocates appropriation for the Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network. There is no additional changes. There are no total changes in the appropriation amount. It is just reallocations. 


Jean OK, I motion that we adopt the amendment. Do we have a second? I have a second. Any, any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. Mr. Anderson.


Anderson That takes us to Item C2. We’re on Page 5. On Item C2 Page 5 by Senator Davis. It’s an amendment to Senate Bill 18 UAMS. This is associated with another item. 


Davis Yeah, I’m going to pass over it at this time. Thank you. 


Jean You’re passing over? OK, thank you, Senator. 


Anderson Yes, Mr. Chairman, Item C6 is, I think, another amendment for the same purpose. That takes us to Item C3 on page 9. This is an amendment by Senator Flippo to House Bill 1034, Department of Corrections Division of Corrections. This is for prison expansion for $75 million. 


Jean Sen. Flippo, you got anything you want to add to this? 


Flippo I’m good. We’ve got Mr. Graves here if there’s any questions by members. 


Jean OK, seeing no questions, motion to adopt the amendment. OK. And a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. Mr. Anderson. 


Anderson Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That takes us to Item C4 on Page 13. This is Senator Beckham. This is an amendment to House Bill 1034 Department of Corrections Division of Corrections. This adds additional appropriation, which is funded through revenue stabilization to increase county jail reimbursement. 


Jean All right, this is county reimbursement. Sen. Beckham, you got anything you want to add? OK. All right. I have a motion to adopt his amendment. Matter of fact, members, this gets it up to $40 a day from $32, just to let you know. We have a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. Adopted.


Anderson Thank you, Mr. Chairman. On Page 17, C5 has special language. 


Jean Special Language. 


Anderson That takes us to Item C6 on Page 23. This is by Representative Shepherd. It is an amendment to Senate Bill 18 for UAMS  for the Breast Milk Bank Special Fund. $1.7 million. 


Jean Representative Shepherd, you’re recognized. 


Shepherd Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Members, this amendment is along the same lines as what Senator Davis was proposing, but in this amendment we would actually appropriate 1.7 million. UAMS has indicated this is a one time expenditure that once this program is established– which we passed the legislation, I think, three years ago maybe to establish this– once, once this is funded at the outset that they will be able to maintain it going forward. I believe they already have the space currently for, for this breast milk bank. But this would be utilized for the equipment and standing up the program. It’s my understanding that currently there is no such bank here in the state of Arkansas. And so this is something that’s been worked on for several years, and I think we’re finally at the point where we have something hopefully we can pass. 


Jean You want to make a motion to adopt your amendment? 


Shepherd I’ll make a motion. 


Jean Do we have a second? We have a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. It is adopted. Mr. Anderson. 


Anderson On Page 27 Item C7. This is an amendment to Department of Human Services Secretary’s office. This does have special language. 


Jean Special Language. 


Anderson Mr. Chairman, on C8 on Page 31, it also has special language.


Jean Special Language.


Anderson On Item C9 on Page 35. This is Senate Bill 104 by Senator English for state veterans home in Northwest Arkansas. It’s cash funds for 15 million and federal funds for 30 million. 


Jean Senator English, you’re recognized. 


English Thank you. This is the appropriation for federal dollars, only an appropriation for federal dollars for a replacement for the veterans home up in Fayetteville. And the second is only an appropriation for matching dollars. 


Jean Any question, members? OK, this is a motion to pass this bill. This is a bill. OK. All right. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion to do pass? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. Mr. Anderson.


Anderson Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The next item is also a bill. Item C10, Page 37. This is Senate Bill 105 by Senator Hill for the Department of Military for grants to the Arkansas National Guard Foundation for $5 million. 


Jean All right. This bill is ready. Need a do pass on Senate Bill 105. Mr. Hill, you got anything you want to add? 


Hill Yeah, I want to add one thing. In lieu of everything that’s going on in the world today, we’ve got the Guard out here today. I’d like for them to stand. Let’s give them a round of applause for everything they do for us. 


Jean All right, we have a motion do pass and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Bill is adopted. Mr. Anderson. 


Anderson We’re on page 39. Item C11. This has special language. 


Jean Special Language. 


Anderson On Item C12, which is on Page 45, this also has special language. 


Jean Special Language. 


Anderson On Page 49, C13 has special language. 


Jean Special Language. 


Anderson That takes us to Item C14 on Page 53. This is an amendment by Senator Sturch to Senate Bill 38, Department of Agriculture. This is for a grant for fair expenses. 


Jean This an amendment? 


Anderson Yes, sir. 


Jean Senator Sturch, you are in seat 26, I guess. 


Sturch Yes, sir. 


Jean You got anything you want to add? 


Sturch Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just to say that this is an ongoing obligation we’ve had for decades. We’ve been paying it out of one time funds. I’m just asking we put that same amount in the Ag Department Budget, so it’s consistent each year. 


Jean OK, any other questions? Senator Hill, you got a question?


Hill Senator Sturch, is this going to get our district fairs back? 


Jean I’ll let you back up. I’m sorry. 


Sturch Thank you. Senator Hill, this is the construction funds that are ongoing. Like I said, we’re not changing any of the amounts or anything like that. It’s the same formula as it was before. 


Hill Thank you. 


Jean All right. We need a motion to adopt the amendment. We have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Amendment is adopted. And Senate Bill 38 is ready do pass as amended. Do we have a motion do pass as amended? We have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. Mr. Anderson, we’re going to D now? 


Anderson Yes, sir. 


Jean You’re recognized. 


Anderson Governor’s Letters. Governor’s Letter Number 11. Mr. Chairman, this amends five bills, and they’re all personnel related. 


Jean Personnel.


Anderson Governor’s Letter Number 12, Mr. Chairman. It amends one bill and it is personnel related. 


Jean Personnel. 


Anderson Governor’s Letter number 13 amends three bills. They are not– does not have personnel or special language. 


Jean Need adoption of the letter? Go ahead.


Anderson Amendment to Senate Bill 64 Department of Education Public School Fund. This consolidates four line items. This is the EBD clean up. That’s the first part on Page two. It’s an amendment to Senate Bill 64 to increase operating expenses $6 million for the Arkansas Public School Computer Network. And it also has an amendment to Senate Bill 63 to amend the Child Nutrition Program $200 million to provide additional federal funding. And it amends Senate Bill 20, Division of Public School and Academic Facilities to increase operating expenses in conference and travel, to provide additional training. That’s it. 


Jean I need a motion to adopt Governor’s Letter number 13. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. It is adopted. None of these bills are ready, so we’ll go to Governor’s Letter Number 14. 


Anderson Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Governor’s Letter number 14 amends two bills. They are both personnel related. 


Jean Personnel. 


Anderson Governor’s Letter number 15 is the same. It amends two bills. They’re both personnel related. 


Jean Personnel. 


Anderson OK, Governor’s Letter number 16. It amends House Bill 1070 DFA Disbursing Officer to provide additional appropriation for the American Rescue Plan Act. And that’s House Bill 1070. It also means House Bill 1028 at the bottom of the page and top of the next page to add a new appropriation for the Racing Commission Compulsive Gambling Disorder Training Educational Program of $200,000. 


Jean OK, motion to adopt Governor’s Letter 16. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. It is adopted. 17, Mr Anderson. 


Anderson Yes, sir. Number 17 does have personnel. 


Jean Personnel. 


Anderson Governor’s Letter number 18 does have personnel. 


Jean Personnel. 


Anderson OK, Mr. Chairman, Governor’s Letter number 19 is on page 29. It does have personnel changes, but there’s also one part that is not personnel related. Would you like me to explain that? 


Jean Go ahead. 


Anderson So the first part is on page 1. For Governor’s Letter Number 19 is House Bill 1026 Department of Public Safety. This provides $2.3 million for the Crime Victims Reparation Program. The second part of this is personnel related. 


Jean OK. Send to personnel. We’re going to make a motion to adopt the first part. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. Adopted. Going to 20. 


Anderson Yes, sir. Governor’s Letter number 20 is on Page 31. This amends House Bill 1080 School for the Blind and Deaf. It adds an appropriation for $50 million for construction and repair for the School for the Blind and a construction– and an appropriation for $50 million for the School for the Deaf. That’s all it has, Mr. Chairman. 


Jean Okay. Motion to adopt Governor’s Letter 20. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. It is adopted. 21.


Anderson Yes, sir. The last one, Governor’s Letter number 21 amends 10 bills. They’re all personnel related, except for one item. You want me to go over that one item, Mr Chair? 


Jean Just go over the one item that’s not personnel related. 


Anderson OK. That’s House Bill 1059. 


Jean House Bill 1059. 


Anderson It’s on page 44. That is additional appropriation authority for an appropriation for medical services Medicaid Tobacco Settlement Program. This request will allow the Division of Medical Service additional appropriation authority to support personnel costs. 


Jean All right. I need a motion to, on the 1059, to adopt out of Governor’s Letter 21. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. The rest of them will be sent to Personnel committee. 


Anderson OK. Mr. Chairman, I misspoke. I wanted to clarify for the record on Governor’s Letter number 20, that is $15 million for the School for the Blind and $15 million for the School for the Deaf for construction and repair. And I said 50. I apologize. 


Jean All right. We got that cleared up. Mr. Anderson, do we have any bills ready? 


Anderson Only in the Senate packet, Mr. Chairman. 


Jean Let’s go to the Senate packet. 


Anderson Mr. Chairman, with the S in the upper right hand corner, Senate Bill 7, Department of Labor and Licensing is ready. That hold has been released. 


Jean Senate Bill 7. Do we have a motion? I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. It is adopted. Mr. Anderson. 


Anderson Still on Page 1 Senate Bill 15. ASU Beebe is ready.


Jean ASU Beebe is ready. We have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. It is adopted. 


Anderson That takes us to Page 3. On Page 3, Senate Bill 24, Administrative Office of the Courts. 


Jean Senate Bill 24 is ready. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. It is adopted. 


Anderson On Page Eight in the Senate packet still. 


Jean Page 8. 


Anderson Senate Bill 49 Workforce Services. 


Jean Workforce Services is ready. I have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed? It is adopted.


Anderson On Page 13 


Jean Going to Page 13. 


Anderson Senate Bill 66. This is the approved claims bill to pay claims that were approved by the Claims Commission. 


Jean Claims Bill. We have a motion and a second. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Any opposed. That’s it. Members, we have Special Language upon adjournment of both chambers this afternoon. Personnel’s meeting 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning? 7:30. Personnel’s meeting at 7:30. And we’re not coming in here till 10:00 tomorrow morning instead of 9. And I’m going to let my colleague get on to some y’all about these holds we’ve got out there. We need to get out next week. We’ve got to get these holds worked through.


Dismang Alright, members, if you have a hold on a bill, it is time to wrap up whatever it is you’re doing with that bill. And so if you go through the list, if you have something, come back around, let staff know kind of what the status is because come next meeting, we’re going to start asking you what the intent of your hold is, what it’s for, what you’re going to do and what your plan is, so the rest of your members can understand what’s happening. Again, if you’ve got a hold, come talk to staff to get it released or you need to talk to the agency to get it settled. Thank you. 


Jean Thank you, Mr. Chairman. People, we are adjourned. Appreciate the good work.