Legislature Passes Two Budget Bills to Help with COVID-19 Crisis
March 19, 2020
This week the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, two budget bills to aid in the response to the COVID-19 crisis. Senate Bill 89 allows the Governor to immediately spend $500 million “for any item for any purpose” related to his March 4, 2020 declaration of emergency. He can increase that spending in $50 million increments, up to $1 billion, however, he must notify the legislature at least three days in advance.
Senate Bill 117 broadly focuses on continuing funding for school districts that are closed during the COVD-19 outbreak. Schools will only qualify for funding if they comply with Executive Order N-26-20, which outlines services schools should perform during this closure. It would also allocate $100 million to schools for “personal protective equipment” or to pay for “supplies and labor related to cleaning.”
Some of the larger provisions within the bill provide that:
- Local educational agencies will only need to report their average daily attendance for July 1, 2019 through February 29, 2020.
- Local educational agencies should continue to pay all employees and contractors during school closures.
- During school closures, all mandated instructional days and minutes are deemed to be met.
- Charter schools that do not already have an approved independent study program are not required to submit a request to revise their charter in order to offer an independent study program during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- The window for mandatory state testing will be extended as long as schools are closed, or until the end of the testing window, whichever comes first.