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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: April 21, 2015 12:39 PM
From: Senator Andrew E. Dinniman
To: All Senate members
Subject: Regulation Fiscal Note Requirement
I have introduced legislation (SB 731) that will require comprehensive financial reporting by the State Board of Education during the regulation process. This bill was unanimously voted out of the Education Committee last session.

A comprehensive accounting of the financial burdens that a specific regulation could cause for the Commonwealth, its schools, the community and the taxpayers needs to be disclosed during the regulation review process. The current practice of vague statements of cost without real numbers does not provide the information needed for the General Assembly to make judgment or comment on a proposed regulation proceeding through the Independent Regulatory Review process.

The regulation to implement Common Core standards and the Keystone Exams is a good example of the State Board of Education’s failure to provide a cost analysis that is needed to adequately determine whether the benefits of the regulation are fiscally feasible.

The State Board’s IRRC filing was lacking information pertaining to the cost that were or would be incurred for implementing the regulation. The IRRC filing did not contain any type of break down for the cost related to bring schools up to the level of the new standards. For example, the filing failed to include the cost for the additional remedial instruction, the cost for instructing teachers and the cost of textbooks. I have received cost analysis for the implementation of the regulation from both organizations and school districts. These cost range from a conservative $300 million to $500 million. These are not minimal costs.

This lack of accounting and information is unacceptable. The General Assembly has a right to have certain information available during the review process of a regulation that affects education. That is why I am introducing legislation to amend the Public School Code to require that the four Chairs of the Education Committees receive a comprehensive, detailed financial break down of estimated cost for regulations related to the Department of Education at key times in the IRRC review process which the Chairs will then provide to their caucus for additional input and review. Further, my bill will also include specific language added to the statute that authorizes the implementation of the Keystone Exams to require similar financial reporting during the review process of any regulation that would implement or expand these Exams, including the two additional Keystone Exams that the IRRC authorized PDE to develop and implement.

In the legislature, both sides of the aisle consistently talk about ending unfunded mandates on local school districts which often results in increased property taxes for our constituents. The vast majority of requirements on the school districts which aren’t funded do not come from legislative action and bills that the General Assembly pass, but from the State Board of Education through the regulation process and regulatory mandates and controls. If we are serious about limiting unfunded mandates, then complete and accurate fiscal disclosure with detailed fiscal notes is vital for the legislature when it reviews regulations that are drafted for approval by the State Board of Education and the Department during the IRRC process.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB731