Earl Jaques is abusing his position as Chair of the House Education Committee while Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf sits back and lets it all go down. But Schwartzkopf will protect his buddy Kathy McGuiness at any cost.
Last week, the House Education Committee voted on House Bill #129 which would allow local school boards to raise local taxes up to 2% for operational costs for a school district without a referendum. The bill failed to get out of committee. Only 3 or 4 legislators voted in favor of it. But when you go to see House Bill #129 on the General Assembly website it does not show the results of the education committee meeting and State Rep. Earl Jaques put an amendment on it two days later. But Earl has no problem refusing to let House Bill #186, which is a charter school audit bill, even be heard in committee.
The only way for a bill to be overturned like that is if the entire House of Representatives votes in majority to get it heard on the floor. But I have never seen that happen when a bill fails to get out of committee. I’ve heard of it happening when the Chair of a committee refuses to let a bill be heard in committee.
When the bill didn’t get released from committee, Earl vowed to hold education meetings for the next six months to get an answer on this. What he didn’t seem to grasp is the reality that most legislators do not want to give school boards a blank check to raise taxes EVERY YEAR even if it does wind up being less than what they are paying. Because the bill does NOT cover capital costs or any amount over 2%, which would cause school districts to go out for a referendum. While Jaques can say other states do it like this, their school boards also cover many of those costs. He wanted to cherry-pick this. In that atmosphere, it would be very hard for school districts to pass any referendum. There is no doubt the current system doesn’t work but putting half a band-aid on a bleeding wound is a half measure that will only cause more problems down the road. Legislators are also looking ahead to the 2020 elections and no one seems to want to have their name be synonomous with tax increases.
As for the audit bill, House Bill #186, which would force the Auditor of Accounts Office to perform audits at the request of the Governor, Secretaries of Departments, or members of the General Assembly. It is not a state secret that Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf is best friends with State Auditor Kathy McGuiness. So when Pete says don’t touch this bill, Earl listens. As a result, the Senate put forth their own bill, Senate Bill #159, which was heard in the Senate Education Committee yesterday. McGuiness brought an entourage to the meeting and had a hissy fit about the bill.
Sarah Mueller with Delaware Public Media attended the meeting and wrote about it last night:
McGuiness said she thinks legislation is unnecessary.
“We don’t think this bill has to happen now because it seems like the driver is one particular Odyssey, the charter school, and that’s going to be addressed on July 15th,” she said. “It’s scheduled for an audit.”
But Williams points out Odyssey’s upcoming audit is being paid for by the school and previous audits failed to find possible misuse of funds.
Mueller went on to write about Delaware Charter School Network’s Director Kendall Massett’s opposition to the audit bill:
Kendall Massett, a registered lobbyist who heads the Delaware Charter Schools Network, also opposes the legislation. She said audits are not supposed to find every single issue. She is also a non-voting member of the DOE Charter School Accountability committee conducting Odyssey’s formal review.
Massett should have no voice in any matter with charter schools given her stunt uncovered last week, but I digress. I will have more to write about the Odyssey debacle very soon.
My favorite part of Mueller’s post? This gem:
It’s unclear whether the House would take up the legislation if it clears the Senate. House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) is friends with McGuiness. But he said their friendship doesn’t enter into his decision-making on legislation.
Yeah, uhm, okay Pete. If anyone believes that one they have one more brain cell and it is lonely. Pete worships McGuiness and anyone in Delaware political circles knows this. For the record, the only member of the Senate Education Committee who was voicing opposition to the bill was Senator Ernie Lopez. McGuiness is making an absolute mockery of the Auditor of Accounts office and turning it into the biggest joke in Delaware. Even lifetime McGuiness supporters in high levels of power are asking themselves what the hell she is doing over there. She spends more time doing photo-ops at events that have nothing to do with the office, spends tons of taxpayer money on training, embroidered shirts and hats with her name on it, and treats the office like it has a blank check. But she can’t afford to do an audit on Odyssey. But Delaware elected her so we all pay the price.
Senate Bill #159 was released from committee and will go on the Senate ready list for a full vote by the Senate. Senator Jack Walsh did put an amendment on the bill which would remove members of the General Assembly from requesting an audit. But even if it passes the Senate, will Schwartzkopf and Jaques continue to play their parlor games with the bill?
The games played at Legislative Hall, especially when it concerns ANYTHING Pete Schwartzkopf wants or doesn’t want, continue. The lack of transparency is frightening and you have to have an eagle eye to follow it all. The Dems in Delaware feed on their own and the in-fighting and conspiring against common-sense bills continues with children paying the ultimate price.