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Lawmakers to hammer out budget issues, deliberate parent trigger this weekend

We're headed into the last week of session, and lawmakers are working overtime. This weekend, they'll tackle two big issues:

Budget chairs from both chambers will deliberate the financial fate of several high-profile appropriations bills. On the radar are tuition hikes, the closure of several state prisons, and possible cuts to the section of the budget that funds the Department of Health, the Department of Children and Families, Elder Affairs, Veterans Affairs and the Agency for Health Care Administration.

The Parent Empowerment Act, which would enable parents at low-performing schools to demand big changes, is scheduled for a hearing in Saturday's Senate Budget Committee. SB 1718, known as parent trigger, would empower parents to demand different teachers and school leaders--and in some cases, petition to have a neighborhood school turned into a charter school. It's the bill's last stop before the Senate floor.