What is happening at the Capitol
The Senate budget targets should come out today. The House within a few days. One thing we have heard unilaterally is that the targets will be low. I do think the increase will likely be 2%/2% in the end but that will not be the starting point and education advocates will have to work hard to end up there.
At a SEE Capitol visit this week, Senator Carla Nelson, Chair of the Senate education finance committee joined us for a meeting. She told the group that the Senate would strive to do three "great" things for E-12 education. First, provide 2%/2% increases to the basic formula. Then, add a new funding stream that would deliver dollars like the basic formula, on a per pupil basis, but would vary based on student achievement. Those districts where students exceed the state average on 8th grade Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) would receive higher percentages of this funding while districts with proficiency rates below state average would receive lower percentages. This would bring up the funding in the lowest funded school districts, like many of SEE districts, where students tend to do well on the MCAs. Yet, it will not decrease the disparity between low-property and high-property wealth districts. Also, it could be detrimental, not just to the urban centers, but other SEE school districts that have large percentages of at-risk students like Austin, Albert Lea, Faribault and Fridley. And, finally, the Senate would like to increase equalization to reduce the taxpayer cost for school levies and bonds, I am not sure if this would be through the education or tax committee. This, of course, all depends on what the education target will be. We are hearing there is a big divide among Senators who want to do 2%/2% increases and those that think that level is too high, at least as a starting point. Senator Nelson said she is fighting for $371 million, which happens to be the exact cost for the 2%/2% increases. We will see how much of the target dollars will be directed between the basic formula and the new student achievement funding stream. We appreciate Senator Nelson for taking the time to share her goals for education this session and championing additional funding for our schools.
I expect the House will propose new funding reforms as well and put money on the formula. However, most likely they will come in even lower than the Senate on the education target and the increases.
The House passed
the bill ends seniority when laying off and hiring back teachers during budget cuts.
Read more. The companion bill carried by Senator Karin Housley in the Senate has not been heard yet. I don't think there is a whole lot of interest in the Senate to take up this issue this session. Yet, Loon is almost certain to include it in the House education finance omnibus bill, which means it does have a chance of ending up in the final agreement. These are the type of provisions that the Governor will try to block. However, he may have to give in to some if he wants to get any voluntary preK funding out of the legislature.
Committees are hearing
a flurry of bills
in preparation for the final policy deadline today and the finance deadline on March 31. The deadlines are when bills have to complete the committee process to remain active.
2017 Education Bills Summary
As always, you can keep up with all the action at the Capitol by following