Yesterday’s notice that HB3180 was withdrawn from consideration was certainly good news, but I’ve said before that we can’t rest until this ill-conceived scheme is “dead, buried, with grass growing on top.”
Today’s article in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press about Sen. David Fowler’s decision not to seek a fourth term in the State Senate further hints that other efforts by proponents of the TACIR-inspired BEP reform may yet be pending this year… see paragraph six:
Currently he is working to change the stateâ€™s school-funding formula that local officials said discriminates against Hamilton County.
He hasn’t filed a bill this year to change it (the deadline has passed), and yet, he’s “currently working” to change it. One might interpret the hints to mean that either his bill from last year may be resurrected and amended, or that he may be planning to amend some other legislation to achieve the same thing — possibly one of the budget bills.
SB0272 (Fowler)/HB0615 (Brown, McCormick, Favors, Sharp) was filed last year and assigned to the Education committees in both houses… but nothing has occurred with these bills since April 11 of last year. The General Assembly runs on a two-year cycle, however, meaning that this bill could be resurrected through the end of the current session.
Unlike HB3180, Fowler’s version does not specify using the TACIR prototype system-level fiscal capacity model; it simply mandates moving to a system-level model by the 2006-2007 school year. Thus, it is not quite as bad, but there is no other model under consideration that I know of. The plain truth is that the fiscal capacity formula is so doggone complicated that very few people really understand it, and even fewer are able to devise a replacement.
Remember the old line about “lies, damn lies, and statistics?” It’s not quite that bad — math by itself does not lie. But choosing which variables to include in a formula that measures ability to pay leaves it open to bias, and the bias in the TACIR formula is based upon the inclusion of the amount that local governments DO allocate to education, but excluding what they COULD allocate.
More to follow shortly.