A House committee worked fast today to move legislation to restore funding for technical education districts as a key lawmaker warned that any substantial changes could scuttle the deal.
Sen. Don Shooter told the House Education Committee that HB2642, the agreement made last week between the governor’s office, legislative leaders and Joint Technical Education Districts, is tenuous and lawmakers should not make too many changes to it.
Shooter has been instrumental in putting together the bill. It proposes to restore nearly all of the $30 million a year in cuts to the districts, or JTEDs, set to take effect July 1. The Education Committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill.
“I am afraid if we tinker with it too much it will fall apart. As a matter of fact, I tell you it will,” Shooter said.
The Legislature last year approved the cuts, leaving JTEDs and the business community to say many of the programs were going to have to be shut down and teachers laid off.
Gov. Doug Ducey’s spending plan was proposing competitive grants that would have provided $10 million a year.
A JTED is a central campus that serves several school districts. The districts offer tuition-free career and technical education to high school students beginning in their sophomore year.
The committee also approved an amendment allowing certain programs that eventually lead to post-secondary degrees.
The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Chris Ackerley, a Sahuarita Republican, said the bill as originally drafted would have disqualified such programs as being a JTED.
“If you’re a nursing student and got a CPR training certificate, and EMT (certificate) and first aid (certificate), those are stackable credentials that lead to increased employment skills and demonstrate a learned proficiency even though people know you’re going to go on to nursing school or medical school,” Ackerley said. “They just want to make sure at the end of the JTED program you have something to demonstrate you have an employable skill.”
The committee chair, Rep. Paul Boyer, a Phoenix Republican, said the bill is moving quickly and with a clause to put it into effect immediately so programs don’t shut down.