Monday, November 12, 2018

Brenner School Funding "Fix" Gets Courtesy Hearing

Within the first couple months of the 2017-2018 legislative session, state Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, introduced a new Ohio school funding plan.

As chairman of the House Education Committee, people logically thought this might be a serious attempt to fix Ohio's long-broken school funding system. And while I pointed out how absurd the plan was -- essentially giving huge influxes of cash to privately run charter and largely religious private schools while cutting funding to most local public school districts -- the plan's introduction was treated seriously be many in the media.

However, the bill -- HJR 3 -- had zero co-sponsors.

Not a one.

I thought that would be a big tell about this plan's viability and quality.

Then, in an embarrassing rebuke of the House Education Chairman's authority, the bill was sent to the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, not Brenner's committee. School funding bills should generally go to finance. But out of respect for the committee chair, one would think his big school funding bill would be sent to his committee.

Yet it wasn't.

What does all this inside baseball mean?

Well, it means that instead of being able to talk about his school funding plan for nearly two years in his own committee, drumming up support, Brenner will be given a single hearing tomorrow in the Finance committee -- a hearing that's required by House rules for all pieces of legislation filed prior to July of even years. Even the crazy bills that have zero chances of passing.

So the House Education Committee Chairman can only get a single, required hearing for an overhaul of the state's school funding system, which has been declared unconstitutional four different times.

That, my friends, is a legislator with zero clout.

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