Even with education cuts, school districts could pay for new testing system, Williams says

03/14/2011 06:25 PM

After proposing state cuts to cover the Medicaid budget gap, Republican Senate President David Williams said he believes school districts can still find the money to implement a new testing system and curriculum outlined in Senate Bill 1 of 2009.

Williams told Pure Politics that making those changes to Kentucky’s education system remains a priority.

Williams and the Senate have proposed cutting state education spending by 1.13% in 2012. But he said that shouldn’t affect the new curriculum standards and testing system going into place.

“I think Senate Bill 1 can be fully implemented,” Williams said. “I believe school districts can find the money to implement those and we can cut the money out of the state department of education if we can’t find it anywhere else.”

The new standards are supposed to go into place next year. But educators have warned that schools could struggle to fully fund the cost of training teachers to implement those new curriculum standards and creating the new testing system.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said on Pure Politics last month that Kentucky school systems aren’t backing off of Senate Bill 1 but are having budget issues.

In a continuation of an interview from Thursday, Williams addressed the tenor of the negotiations over the Medicaid budget fix, the failure of a bill dealing with a key ingredient in methamphetamine and whether this was his most challenging legislative session since becoming Senate president.

“All legislative sessions are tough, and they’re all different,” he said. “It’s kind of like any painful experience that you have — you forget how painful the previous experiences might have been. But this was not a pleasant legislative session.”

Williams also talked about his decision to allow the public and reporters to watch last week’s talks over the Medicaid budget. In the past, Williams and other legislative leaders have preferred to conduct budget negotiations during free conference committees behind closed doors.

“I think the entire group of negotiators there had a difference countenance than they’ve ever had before,” he said. “It was extremely difficult to do any negotiating.”

_(Programming note: One of the House leaders, Rep. Tommy Thompson of Owensboro, is scheduled to be on Pure Politics later this week.)
_ – Ryan Alessi

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