Lawmakers had to scramble the last couple days to find a way to appropriate money to pay for textbooks for public schools.
The $6.8 billion state budget that legislators approved the final week of the session was said to contain $33 million for textbooks for public schools, but several legislators were disappointed to hear that state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi told Board of Education members on the second-to-last day of the session that she planned to use $11.5 million of the $33 million allocated for textbooks for other purposes.
The state House on the last day of the session passed SB 1816, which included language requiring the state Education Department, which received a $2.3 billion allocation from legislators, to spend $30 million on textbooks for public school districts. Some members were uneasy voting for the measure because the bill also authorized a statewide virtual charter school, a measure that barely passed earlier when it received the minimum 51 votes needed for passage. With the textbook funding amendment, the bill passed 84-10.