Binding Arbitration Never Makes It Out Of Committee
Friday, July 01, 2011
The controversial battle over whether to allow a mediator to settle disputes between teachers unions and school committees never made it out of committee on the House side in the final hours of 2011 legislative session.
The binding arbitration bill, which was heavily supported by teachers unions and won approval in the Senate, was expected to create one of the most prolonged debates of the day Thursday. But after House went into a dinner recess, Speaker Gordon Fox confirmed that there would be no vote on the matter this year.
House Needs More Time
Fox said he believes House members need more information about the issue.
“Binding arbitration is a very complicated issue,” Fox said. “I talked with many of our House members who feel they need more information and time. So therefore I will not put a vote before them in this session. We will continue to look closely at this issue in the off-season.”
Tea Party: Thank You Speaker
The news that binding arbitration wouldn’t come to vote in the House pleased Rhode Island Tea Party leader Lisa Blais, who had been a vocal opponent of the bill in recent weeks. After word trickled out about the news, Blais immediately sent out a blast e-mail to Tea Party followers congratulating them on rallying against binding arbitration.
“Binding arbitration is dead for now,” she wrote. “Thank you Speaker Fox for saving our students, preserving management rights of locally elected officials and providing hope for all taxpayers in this state that indeed our voiced are heard. We are not going away!”
Blais and the Tea Party were part of an organized effort all week to inform the public about why they were opposed to the bill. They took to the airwaves and used the internet to rally hundreds of supporters to call their State Reps and ask them not to support the bill.
In the e-mail, Blais also made it a point to list the names of the 20 Senators that voted in favor of the bill earlier this week, including Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed. The message reminds voters to “remember them at election time.”
Reilly: It Put People In A Difficult Position
First-term State Rep. Dan Reilly said he was pleased that binding arbitration never made it to a vote and said he thinks the bill would have forced the hand of many members of the House. He said he knew how he would vote all along.
“It would have been an easy vote for me,” the freshman Republican said. “You need to ask the union guys about it. It would have put them in a difficult position.
State House Source: Puts Senators In Tough Spot
Reilly’s point raises questions about why the bill ever made it to vote in the Senate. State House officials said it’s rare to have such a controversial bill make it through the Senate and then fail to even get voted on in a House Committee meeting.
One State House source said forcing the bill through the Senate could come back to bite Paiva Weed in 2012.
“She hung a lot of people out to dry,” the source said. “They voted for that knowing their constituents wouldn’t be happy. For it to not get the time of day in the House makes them look bad.”
Costa: Speaker Did The Right Thing
On the House side, Republicans had nothing but praise for Speaker Fox for opting not to bring binding arbitration to vote.
Rep. Doreen Costa said it was clear Fox listened to his colleagues and the voters and realized that the bill should be supported this year.
“I’m happy Speaker Fox listened to the people,” she said. “He knew that there was so much opposition to it.”
As GoLocalProv reported Thursday, $2 billion in local spending was at stake in the battle over binding arbitration. Costa said she was pleased with Fox’s decision.
“He did the right thing,” she said.
- $2 Billion at Stake in Binding Arbitration Battle
- Binding Arbitration Puts Schools on Tortuous Path
- Groups Rally Against Binding Arbitration for Teachers
- PODCAST: $2 Billion at Stake in Binding Arbitration Battle
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