Joint Budget Committee

Aug. 9, 2022


Jean …to order. The first item on the agenda is Item B, the Senate Bill 2. Senator Irvin, do you want to go to the table or do it from right there? Whichever one you prefer. All right. Senate Bill 2, the school safety grants appropriation. Senator, if you’d identify yourself, and you’re free to go.


Irvin Thank you, Mr. Chair. Senator Missy Irvin. I’m just going to go through the bill. Section 1 gives the Department of Education spending authority to their operational fund. Section 2, it sets up the restricted reserve, which is where we’re parking this– these funds. And Section 2, it further details and outlines the process that we will go through in order for those funds then to be utilized. ALC takes a vote as to the– initiate the process and then the rules then will also have to be approved by ALC, which is consistent with the restricted reserve fund. And then, Section C of Section 2 allows the transfer from the restricted reserve, which requires a 3/5 vote through ALC. You have the severability clause. And then Section 3 is actually the transfer from the surplus funds into the new set aside fund that we’ve created with this bill. 4 and 5 are just boilerplate language. And then Section 6 is the emergency clause, which requires passage and approval. I’ll be happy to take any questions.


Jean Okay, members. Anybody have any questions? Representative Springer, you’re recognized for a question.


Springer Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good afternoon. Senator, I would just like to know, do you have any idea or have you had any discussions with the Department of Education regarding what specific type programs or that this money will be utilized for?


Irvin Yes, ma’am. Thank you for the question. So as you may or may not be aware, but we have a school safety commission and they have been meeting and they have recommendations. We’re going to combine that information, which is based on national standards for school safety and recommendations, as well as, there has been an assessment through our adequacy process about school safety, which I have the results of that, and you can find those for yourself as well. And then we’re also going to communicate with the schools to try to establish a baseline of what is actually needed for those schools so that we can make sure that the grant meets those needs.


Springer Thank you. I’m glad to know that you’re going to make contact with the schools to decide what you’re going to spend–


Irvin Yes. Yeah, we want to be very intentional with this money and obviously use it where it needs to go versus, um–


Springer Where you think, where we think it ought to go or where some legislator thinks it ought to go. Right.


Irvin Well, based on standards. So, that, that are appropriate for school safety.


Springer Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Jean And I will put, the final recommendation of that task force is due in October. Is that correct, Senator?


Irvin I, I believe so.


Jean Yes. You got some more questions. Senator Chesterfield, you’re recognized.


Chesterfield Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Senator Irvin, why couldn’t this wait for the special session after the adequacy study?


Irvin Senator Chesterfield, this is something that because of the recent issues that happened in Uvalde, there are– this was a huge concern for a lot of schools. They’re in the process of trying to develop those plans right now with their school boards and with, with parents that are, that are clamoring to say, what are you going to be doing differently than what we have now? And this was a recommendation that the governor had that we enacted on.


Chesterfield And so we know that our schools need to be safe. I think that is, without doubt, a unanimous thing in this body. But we also know in order for them to be safe, we need adults in the classroom who want to be there and can afford to be there. I guess that’s why I’m, I’m concerned about the, the timing of this. I’m concerned about the thought behind this, because if we can do something about school safety, we can do something about teacher salaries. Would you agree?


Irvin Senator Chesterfield, we’re utilizing the surveys that the superintendents and the teachers provided through the adequacy process. That’s why we’re parking the money in restricted reserve, because we do not have those answers as of right now. As we’re preparing and planning for the promulgation of the rules of the grant program, we’re going to go through that process and utilize the recommendations from the School Safety Commission as well.


Chesterfield Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Senator Irvin. It doesn’t make sense to me, but thank you.


Jean Thank you, Senator. Senator Hammer, are you in Seat 60? You’re recognized.


Hammer Thank you, Mr. Chair. And I’m sorry, Senator Irvin, I should have asked you this before, but it just dawned on me. Can you tell us about the conversation with the Department of Ed as far as it being promulgated through rules, how that’s going to coordinate with the– with what Senator Chesterfield just talked about as far as the adequacy study. Help us understand how all that’s going to harmonize and the time frame by which you think that will occur in.


Irvin So again, I think we do have an initial assessment that was done through the adequacy process, which we do have the results of. But there’s, there needs to be more specifics, in my opinion, about exactly what the schools currently have. We don’t– it’s not my intention for us to have a grant program where there’s not a defined need. And so that this– these funds can meet that need. And so that assessment process needs to occur. And we’re going to send that out in the next couple of weeks. We’re going to try to get through this, but utilizing the recommendations from the School Safety Commission and combine all that together. That’s why we’re parking this money in restricted reserve for the development of that in that working with the Department of Ed to, to make that process and to create that grant program appropriately for where the needs are.


Hammer All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Jean Thank you, senator. Senator Elliott, you’re recognized for questions.


Elliott Thank you, Mr. Chair. Senator Irvin, this is just an anticipatory question. But do you anticipate that when the commission makes its recommendations that these recommendations are going to be maybe a list from which school districts may choose or do you anticipate it will be maybe that plus there are some that are mandatory? You have any sense of where they’re thinking? Like if there’s something I don’t want to do as a school district, I’m not required to do. It’s just they’re called recommendations.


Irvin Right. Well, I think when you, when you think about school safety, we think of, unfortunately, the events that have occurred with school shootings. But for me, school safety was really talking about the safety of that child and the administrators that are there and the teachers and the staff and everybody involved. And if you look at the survey, online bullying is the number one concern right now. And so, unfortunately, we’ve also seen a lot of suicides in schools. So for me, when you talk about school safety, you really need to broaden what that means. And so, you know, in my opinion, I think there should be a standard and a base level. And there are things that I think need to occur before an event. Hopefully an event would never occur. But there are things that can be utilized like the smart data dashboard, which we already have within the Department of Ed, where schools need to utilize and understand more. Those things really need to be more intentionally used and utilized so that we can try to prevent anything from occurring. And then at the moment that something might or may not happen, if it is a school shooting, then in my opinion, there are things that we have already invested in and taxpayers’ dollars that we should be able to utilize more fully. And so those things need to be fleshed out. And then, then the end of that, there is such an aftermath of, of what may have occurred. And so you need to be prepared on the back end of that to deal with that. So you have to look at the whole spectrum of, of school safety. And I think we have, we’ve done a great job since 2013 when we passed the Safe School Initiative. And we’ve, we’ve kind of built on that. And as we understand technology and how technology changes, there’s all kinds of opportunities where we could actually integrate all of the technology that’s available so that we’re able to prepare and respond immediately, which is why you save lives. If you can lessen that response time, you’re actually saving more lives when you’re able to do that. So we have advances in those technologies since 2013. You have artificial intelligence that can recognize, recognize things before it happens. There’s immediate lockdowns. There’s all those kinds of things. However, you have schools that have already gone that distance, whereas you have maybe some schools that are more poor or school or– in rural parts of the state of Arkansas that aren’t that prepared yet. So we’ve got to take all of those things into accountability and consideration when we’re developing a grant program so that we’re being intentional about taxpayers’ dollars and where they need to go. And that is my priority and I think several of us that are, have worked on this issue for the last couple of months.


Elliott Well, I was trying to get a sense, though, of if whether or not– how much of this is going to be optional for school districts is what I, what I was asking about. For example, you know, I’m not the only one, but I would not like to see, for example, vote on something today, then end up funding something that says we have to have people with guns in all of our schools. So for something like that or any other thing we want to consider, do you anticipate that these recommendations are going to be optional or do you anticipate some of them are going to be mandatory as we start through this process of rulemaking and so forth? I’m just wondering if there’s been any discussion about those things.


Irvin No, I have not had discussions about those things. And that’s really a question for the Safe School Commission and Dr. May, as far as their recommendations. I’m focused on the nuts and bolts of this appropriation bill and setting it up the way that we’ve set it up.


Elliott Yeah, and so am I. I just didn’t want to– I want– I’m focused, but it’s connected to because I’m voting today on what’s going to be funded, and I would just really like to have a bit of clarification of what those rules are going to mean. That’s all.


Dismang And I can jump in for that, I think, real quickly, because what we’re talking about is establishing a grant program. No one is going to force any school to make their school safer. So if the school district doesn’t want to, you know, submit a proposal by, you know, looking at– like I said, we don’t know exactly what the process is. But no school is going to be forced to take this money and implement programs to make their school safer. So, again, if some school doesn’t want to participate, then they will not have to participate. I think that maybe answers your question a little more directly.


Elliott It does in a way. But, Senator, I want to know, all of these things are going to be optional, though. Like, when I fill out the grant, there are not going to be certain things I have to accept, must accept along with the grant.That’s what I’m asking.


Dismang I’ve never seen a grant program written that didn’t have requirements that you would have to meet to accept the money that was being granted. Now, there may be some programs out there that you just get to take money however you want to do whatever you want. But I think so long as there is a cohesive, consistent plan that follows some of the guidelines that are currently being worked through, someone that is applying can be able to, you know, achieve and receive that grant money. But, again, no school is going to be forced to make their school safer by taking this, you know, and have to take this grant money.


Elliott Well, this is the last thing. When you say no school will be forced to take money to make themselves safer, there are some instances and when you might think to take it, take the money, this is making it safer. What I wanted to be sure of, because one person thinks and this is a mandatory thing, this is one of the things you have to do to get the grant money. That, that might be one of the very things that I think is not good for my school. It might not be safe at my school. That’s all I was trying to clarify.


Dismang Yeah. And if that happens, it would be like any other grant program I’ve ever seen. Then that person would not apply for the grant money–


Elliott Okay.


Dismang –if there are requirements in place. And I think there should be. It would be very foolish of us to issue– and I think that’s what we’re working through right now– and just allow people to take grant money for whatever they’d like to. I do think there should be some guidance and bare minimum standards that should be met. Of course, we’re not far enough along to know what those are, but I would hope that there is minimum guidance that they have to follow before they’re able to be awarded the grant money. But again, if they’re not willing to meet even the most basic of requirements to receive some of this grant money, no one is going to force them to take this grant money.


Elliott I understand that, Senator. And I, what– I just wanted to be clear in no way– I’m familiar with the granting process. But there are some things that happen when we are talking about something that is this serious and all that’s been considered safe. It is very clear that there are folks who think having a gun in schools is very safe. I do not. So that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. But in no way would I ever assume there would not be guidelines. I mean, that would just be foolish for me to even come up with that kind of thing. And so, that’s not the guidance I need.


Dismang Then I think we’re on the same page.


Elliott Okay. Thank you.


Dismang Thank you.


Jean Thank you, Senator. Senator Stubblefield, you’re recognized.


Stubblefield Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator Irvin, do we have any idea how many schools, prior to this safety commission’s meeting, do we have any idea how many schools, the number of schools who have asked for shield grants through NRA or COP grants that would meet up with the recommendations of the safety commission that have already put those, those protocols in place? Are they still eligible for–


Irvin That’s a great question. And one of the things that I think is a priority is making sure that if you have already utilized any of those federal funds, it would be nice to know where they have utilized those and if they’ve been able to take advantage of those. And so I don’t have that information, Senator Stubblefield.


Stubblefield Is there any way we could get that? Because I happen to know a number of schools who have already put in, received these grants, these SHIELD grants and COP grants who have put in alarm systems and met many of the other criteria that was recommended by the Safety Commission.


Irvin Right.


Stubblefield And trained staff and provided weapons and law enforcement training for the staff.


Irvin No, that’s–


Stubblefield So, could we get a list of those schools?


Irvin So that’s part of, part of what I described as the assessment that we are going to send out, which we have not prepared yet. But we’re going to work with the Department of Ed because I want to know exactly what they’ve already spent their money on, how they’ve spent their money, where it came from, what pot of money it– they utilized. For instance, if they used ESSER funds to replace doors with because of ventilation or COVID, well, we don’t want to spend money to replace doors again. We want to make sure that this is intentionally spent and that we utilize it wisely, which is why we’ve structured the appropriation bill the way we structured it, to put it in restricted reserve and for all of that to come through ALC for further explanation and vetting.


Stubblefield Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Jean And, members, remember, we’re just setting aside $50 million that the Peer and Legislative Council will have full oversight of this. And once again, all the recommendations will not be here until October. This is just setting aside this $50 million. We’re not going to spend any of it now between now and at least October. It’ll be after October. But that’s what we’re doing today. And we’ll have time to, to set up the guidelines for the recommendation of the task force and with the Peer Subcommittee. And the legislative body will have the final say on how these, these funds are spent. All right. Senator Hendren, do you have a question?


Hendren Yeah, just– thank you, Mr. Chairman. So I appreciate your work on the program. I guess my question is, we’ve got a $50 million bucket. If, say, we get $80 million in requests, is ALC– who’s going to referee between these school districts and prioritize? Is that again going to come to the legislature?


Irvin Again, Senator Hendren, I think this is, again, just like Representative Jean said, we’re setting this money aside. We’re working on a lot of those details to make sure that we’re spending the money wisely, intentionally and appropriately. I don’t have an answer if you have more needs that come in. It depends on how this is structured and what the needs are for. I don’t want to waste the money. I don’t think anybody here wants to waste taxpayers’ money on something or spend money on something that’s not going to actually meet a standard, a national standard that’s set by, you know, people that are in this space as experts on school safety. I mean, there’s been so many people that have created different assessments based on what happened at Parkland, what happened at Columbine, what happened at Sandy Hook. Those types of technologies exist. And you have the ability to utilize that to guide us so that this grant program is very focused and very intentional. So I don’t anticipate right now that there’s going to be more than a $50 million need out there. But, however, we will address that, just like we always do in the Legislative Council process, which we have done previously with other grant programs.


Hendren Yeah. I guess that’s like if school districts are watching this, and I know some are more in tune with what’s going on here than others. And I hate to see good requests not funded because they get the word late or their request comes in three months after somebody who’s got somebody down here full time monitoring what’s going on. So I guess my question is, again, are part of the rules and guidelines that you and Senator Dismang are talking about going to be clear that: Is it first come, first serve? Is it we’re going to rank and categorize? How are we going to deal with more requests? Or are we just going to commit that we’re going to put in enough dollars to fund whatever legitimate requests come?


Irvin Well, those are great questions because there are some schools, like you said, that have somebody that’s really tuned in on the grant process and how to write those grants and take advantage of those grants. Not every school has that person. So I am very aware of that because I serve a district that’s very rural and it’s– and they struggle sometimes in those areas to try to make sure that they’re getting the right and appropriate moneys or assistance through available grants. They may not know about the grants that Senator Stubblefield talked about. So that is something that’s always on my mind. You have other schools that have really stepped up and have connected to our AWIN system, for instance, which is one of the best emergency network radio systems in the country that we have spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars creating and building. And so Fayetteville School District, I believe, or Rogers– I think it’s Rogers– have already connected and integrated into that system, which I think is great. But they have that capability of doing it because it’s a larger district. They have more resources to be able to understand that and bring that together. I want to make sure that what we do helps those smaller schools reach that same level of safety and standards as a Rogers School District. Viola should be able to do the same thing as Rogers.


Hendren But it’s going to be the legislature– I guess, will this go to Peer Committee–


Dismang No, if I can, I will inject real quick on that because I think I understand the question that you’re asking. And so you’re asking is it going to be first come, first serve? How are we going to do this? And I would agree, there have been some grant programs that have rolled through that we did not give the proper oversight to. Ready for Business would be probably a prime example that was first come, first serve, not properly funded, but at the end– in the beginning, I should really say, it will be up to the department to make the recommendation to this body on how those funds are going to be awarded. It will not be up to this legislative body on how those funds are going to be awarded. They will have to give us a set of rules and guidelines and then we can only approve or disapprove. Now we may ask that they tweak and make changes, and it goes back. But it will be their plan that we follow on how they are distributed. So if that’s first come, first serve, if it’s capped at a certain amount per school, if it’s based on number of kids, all of those things will come from the department, not this legislative body. I would hope that we have some discussions, are a part of that process. But if we’re concerned, again, just to say one more time about first come, first serve or the distribution process, then we need to express those concerns to the executive branch. Because they are the ones that will be issuing the letter to make the request for the funds, and they’ll be the ones issuing the guidance and the rules and the recommendations for the body. So I feel like we’re kind of a little bit out of our turn of what our legislative responsibility is. And I don’t want any in this room, anybody in this room to have a misconception that you are going to dictate how much each school receives, if it’s capped, and how it’s going to be awarded. We can be a part of the process, but we will not be the ones that will be able to draw up the actual rules and regs.


Hendren Okay. I guess, I appreciate that statement, Senator Dismang. But that’s not what page 2 of the bill says. It says the department shall not disburse any funds in the school safety set aside. contingency vote– or contingency vote 3/5 set aside until the rules have been approved by the Legislative Council.


Dismang Absolutely. And as you know, because of the way that our processes are set up, we cannot, because we are not the executive branch, establish rules and regulations. Those can only be done by the executive branch. We have the ability to approve, but nothing more. So we can disapprove, and it has to be based on the fact, you know, for, for a particular reason in regards to rules and regs. We can approve or disapprove. We cannot change, amend, adjust, whatever. That would be up to the executive branch.


Hendren I guess the reason I’m asking this, you brought up a case which I agree with, which was poorly managed with a grant program through the executive branch. But I see we’ve got a Peer Committee meeting next week with 30 school districts or so coming before Peer to get a specific program approved, not by the executive branch, but by Peer. What I want to know is, is that what we’re doing here too?


Dismang All we have is the ability to approve or disapprove. We don’t have the ability to change the amount or tell them what to do.


Hendren That’s not what I’m asking. I’m saying when you end up with a system where we are the approval authority, which is what we are doing next week in Peer, and what it appears this piece of legislation sets up, and now we have a system where $80 million worth of requests comes in and you’ve got $50 million set aside, how are school district supposed to know? Who do they talk to, the department or Peer Committee?


Dismang No, they talk to the department. The department is going to take a look. They have $50 million to work with. We can bring up someone from the department. They’ve done this before. They have $50 million to work with. They’re going to set a cap or a limitation on how much each school receives. That would be step one, at least that’s how I would draw it up. They may choose to do it differently. But it’s going to be a certain allocation per student, based on population cap per school. I don’t know. That will be up to the department to determine. They’re going to bring a plan to us. Our sole responsibility is– we can have a discussion about it, but at the end of the day is to either approve it or disapprove it.


Hendren So they will bring us, similar to what we’re going to see next week, a list of school districts they recommend for approval. And it’ll be an up or down vote based on the recommendation from the department.


Dismang They’re going to bring to us, my understanding, and we’ll just see how it plays out, what they plan on doing as far as a rule promulgation for how these funds are going to be distributed. Now, if they want to choose to do that on a district level when they bring it in here, or if they want to do it on a global level and say, here’s the parameters, how the funds can be spent, we would ask for you to prove that for these funds to be spent. I don’t know the answer to that. That’s going to be up to the department on how they move forward, not to us.


Hendren Well, and again, I’ll stop at this. But the reason I make this is for the point that Senator Irvin said, I represent a lot of small school districts, too. And I hate to see them left outside because the ones who are on the inside come in here and roll through $50 million before they figure out what happened.


Dismang Oh, I will never visit that again. We went through that with the Ready for Business program. It was a huge misstep. And I do, I will personally be engaged enough to ensure that that doesn’t occur again. And I think you will be, too.


Hendren All right. Thank you.


Dismang Thanks.


Jean Representative Monte Hodges, you’re recognized.


Hodges Thank you, Mr. Chair. My question is, Senator Irvin, how did you guys come up with the $50 million amount to be allocated?


Irvin That was an amount that the governor announced through the press.


Hodges Thank you.


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


Wooten Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to, I want to pursue Senator Hendren’s line of questioning. And it’s making an exact point that I want to question. I want an answer if you can give it. Is any consideration being given to dividing it up on a per pupil basis, per district, per the foundation program? Because if not, we’re going to end up with exactly what Senator Hendren’s talking about. And a cap there where no school gets less than $40 or $50,000, that takes care of your small schools. But we’re going to be in a hell of a mess if we let them come in here for $50 million worth of grants.


Jean Representative Wooten, let me, let me just say this. I think, I think this may be part of the task force recommendation that will come in October. Then the administration and the department can accept that recommendation, add, or change things to it. So we don’t know all the answers right now, but there is a process and we will get the final recommendation from the Task Force, School Safety Task Force in October. And I think a lot of our questions will be answered at that time. Just let, let, let the process work.


Irvin Yes. Representative Wooten, we are very engaged in this process. And we’re trying to communicate as best we can, collect as much information as we can, so that when we make this grant program with the Department of Education bringing forward the rules and the regulations that we’re trying to take all those different factors into consideration as best we possibly can and to learn from past history because we don’t want to repeat the mistakes of previous grant programs.


Wooten One follow-up question, Mr. Chairman. Is that being considered, the foundation bases or the per pupil disbursement of the funds by the Commission?


Irvin So, so what you’re discussing is the matrix and the funding? Is that what I’m understanding your question?


Wooten I’m not– I’m just talking about that $50 million distribution.


Irvin This is just a grant program, separate than–


Wooten So you’re telling us that it’s going to be on a–


Irvin This is a $50 million–


Wooten –grant? In other words, Beebe may get 50 and Springdale get 2 million?


Irvin No. We, we don’t– no. We don’t have that information.


Wooten Well, how is it going to be a grant program then?


Irvin It’s a grant program. It’s not– this is not–


Wooten Are you going to have–


Irvin –part of the foundation funding.


Dismang If I– Representative Wooten, I think I can answer your question for you. We don’t know. And I think it’s a little more complex than if we just give it on a per pupil basis. Because you’ll have large school districts that obviously would absorb a lot more of the money. It’s going to be hard, even a school district of 350, that’s not going to amount to a lot. And so I think it’s going to be some sliding scale. But again, we’re all just making up what that may look like today. It’s going to be the responsibility of the Education Department in conjunction with whoever else is involved at the governor’s office on what that disbursement is going to look like. And then we’re going to have, and I think what we’re doing right now– so everybody who’s listening in the audience– Education’s here, a few others are here. There’s a concern about making sure how these things are distributed in that the Little Rock School District doesn’t get the full 50 million. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen. Does everybody understand the audience? That’s not what we’re talking about doing. I think we’re going to be clear moving forward that it’s going to be, well, it’ll be distributed up and it’s going to be done as fairly as possible. Thank you.


Irvin And I hope we understand that there are places in rural Arkansas– Westside was where one of the first school shootings occurred, in Jonesboro Westside. I know people that had to respond to that emergency that worked in the emergency room from that shooting. It was a rural school. Their needs are very different than Fayetteville or Springdale, as they are different for Viola and Salem and Norfolk and Clinton and St. Joe and Marshall and Mountain View and Searcy and Bald Knob and Beebe. We want to make sure a child is safe no matter where they are. That’s a priority for me. I represent one of the most rural parts of the state of Arkansas. And I can assure you, these folks struggle to make it all work. And I understand that. This is $50 million to help keep children safe on our school campuses. And we have to consider all those circumstances, in my opinion, when we write a grant program so that the child that’s in Salem, Arkansas, can be just as safe as a child on Texarkana’s campus. And that’s a priority for me. And I think it should be for all of us.


Wooten Well, I’m, I’m not questioning that. I agree with you. I’m just trying to, I’m just trying to figure out how my districts are going to fare. And I’ve got small districts and big districts. And I’m going to be like Senator Hendren, you’re going to have some out there that’s going to get less because they’re smaller. But is that right? You made the point. Westside had the problem.


Irvin Right. But you don’t know that. You’re making an assumption that you don’t–


Wooten I’m not making any assumption.


Irvin Well.


Jean Okay. We’re going to move on. Senator Alan Clark, you have a question.


Clark Thank you, Mr. Chair. I’d like to follow up on the chair’s remarks, Representative Jean’s remarks, that we’re waiting on the task force’s report in October. If that’s the case, aren’t we getting the cart in front of the horse?


Jean Senator, we’ve got some surplus money. I don’t, I don’t think 50 million is the final price tag. But we’re going to have a regular session coming in January that we can do more if we see the need there. This is just a recommendation that the governor wanted to set aside some of this excess money, park it, and we’re still working on a formula through the task force. And it hasn’t got to the Department of Education and the governor to make their final recommendation. So all we’re doing is setting aside $50 million that the legislative body through ALC will control. That’s all we’re doing. And it’s going to sit there until after the recommendation in October and some point after that. How this is going to look, what it’s going to turn out is still yet to be determined. And it’s a process that I think we all want input in.


Clark Exactly, Representative Jean. The– we don’t know what it’s going to look like. And I’m trying to think of a time that I was told that I would have– because I thought Senator Dismang brought that up very well, if you were listening, that we’ve been told that we would be, we would have approval. But it seems to me like every time it comes up for approval, then we’re told, well, if it doesn’t actually violate the law, you have to vote to approve. So I have doubts that we have any approval at all in the future and that we’re just setting the money aside for the executive branch and Department of Education to do what they want.


Jean Well, I, I think we’re taking this up as we did the CARES and the American Recovery money, and, sir, we do have approval of it. And this will be the same path that that money’s taken care of. And ALC and Peer do have the final say in that money. So you want– I think you want legislative oversight on your spending. I think you would agree with that.


Clark Oh, absolutely.


Jean Yeah. So, I mean, but the plan has not been developed yet. But do you have any other questions?


Clark No. Well, only one. Is the money going somewhere between now and October if we don’t do something?


Jean No.


Clark Thank you.


Jean Thank you, sir. Representative Hodges.


Hodges Thank you, Mr. Chair. Going back to the first question I asked earlier, you mentioned that $50 million was a recommendation of the governor. I mean, I guess it’s just the banker in me and the fact, you know, when you come up with a dollar amount, say, if I’m going to build a home. You know, I’d want to know the– where did you get the dollar amount from to build this home? Give me an estimate before I give you this money. So I’m just curious to know the, the $50 million, I mean, how did we come up with that figure? Because going back to Senator Hendren’s question, you know, it could be $80 million or $100 million worth of requests that are out there. So how do– I’m just curious to know in this little finite mind of mine, how did we pick a $50 million amount to put in this grant?


Jean No, I think it’s a great question. I think that’s a question you can ask the governor. I think that’s a question you should ask the governor, as, as how he picked that number, because I can’t answer that question. What I can answer is that I think, like Representative Jean said, we have another session coming in January. If we see that there are other things that we want to act on, then that can be addressed at that time. That’s the way this body functions. We’re the legislature. We see that and we do that all the time. I think this is a good starting point. And it could be more. It could be less. We, we don’t know. But this was just a number that was given to us. And I respect that. And that’s what we’re here to, to do. But again, we’re setting that money aside and developing this. And I understand– this– that’s why it’s a grant program. You know, if it, if it were not a grant program, then perhaps we would make an assessment and then we would just start sending money out the door to the school districts and say, okay, you need this, you need this, and you need this. But that’s really not the way we function, and that’s not how a grant program would function. So I’m okay with the amount at where it is, given that it’s a grant program.


Hodges Not that I’m not okay with the amount, but I’m just, you know, just curious minds would just want to know. I mean, usually you sponsor on this bill, I would just– you know, if somebody gave me a dollar amount to allocate, I would be curious to know, okay, how did you come up with those figures? Can you, you know, did you have a formula or something that to come up with? And so that, that’s, that’s my curiosity as far as this grant’s concerned. Thank you.


Irvin I appreciate it.


Jean Senator, would you like to make a motion to adopt Senate Bill 2?


Irvin Yes. I’ll make a motion to adopt.


Jean I have a motion. Do we have a second? We have a second. Any discussion? All in favor, say aye. Any opposed? Senate Bill 2 is adopted. We’re going to Item C. Folks, this would be a, normally a Peer. I think DFA needs a little overtime money. Anybody want to come up and talk about it or y’all, y’all, good to go? It’s $30,000. No, we’re not going to take 40 minutes on one and just spun these people. We’re not going to do that. Recognize yourself.


Hyslop Melanie Hyslop, Department of Finance and Administration.


Hamrick Wayne Hamrick, administrator for driver services and motor vehicle.


Hyslop Due to an increase in the volume of titles and then also staffing issues, as I’m sure most of you know is a problem in today’s society, we’ve had to work our current staff additional overtime that was not anticipated. So we’re just coming to you guys asking for $30,000 to get us through until the end of this month when we will come before Peer and ALC for another $300,000, I believe, to get us through the end of the year.


Jean Any questions? Senator Chesterfield.


Chesterfield It’s more a point of personal privilege. I just want to thank these two people sitting at the table for always being so pleasant and responsive when we need information from your services for our constituents. And I would be remiss if I didn’t say that today. Just thank you very much. We don’t get a chance to say that often. Thank you. And I would, and I would move that we provide the $30,000.


Jean Okay. All right. Thank you, Senator Chesterfield, for the kind thoughts for FDA. They– I’m sure they appreciate that. Anyway, anyway, without objection, this will stand reviewed. Folks, that is it. We appreciate it. If we need you again, we’ll have a call of the chairs. Appreciate the good work. We are adjourned.