Wrapping things up for the week before the holiday weekend...
The Senate has passed its form of school finance reform.
The Senate measure would raise teacher pay by at least $500 in 2006 and an additional $1,500 in 2007, restore a health care stipend for teachers, increase state education funding by $2.9 billion during the next two years and cut local school taxes by 40 cents per $100 valuation by 2007.
However, the extra school funding and local tax reductions depend on passage of higher state taxes, which the Legislature also must approve and which also eluded lawmakers during the regular session.
The House, which must act first on tax bills, plans to debate tax legislation next week.
Both the House and the Senate bills would increase state spending on public education by about $3 billion during the next two years, but there are differences in how the money would be allocated and how to maintain equity among property-poor and wealthier school districts.
The House bill, for example, would require wealthy districts to share no more than 35 percent of their local tax revenue with poor schools. The Senate bill doesn't include a similar limit.
House and Senate leaders, as they did in the spring, also have major differences about how to trade higher state taxes for local school tax cuts.