All public school children must have equal access to a high quality education regardless of where they live in Minnesota.

Legislative Update  
A c ommunication for education advocates in SEE districts.
April 28, 2017  
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What is happening at the Capitol
The House and Senate have released their negotiated budget targets for each conference committee.  The House accepted the Senate budget target of $300 million for education, which is not even enough to fund 2% increases to the basic formula.  The legislative priority with a $1.6 billion surplus is to return $1.15 billion back to taxpayers.  Unfortunately, this left very few resources for everything else and will result in most every school district making cuts for the next school year or looking into voter-approved referendums to preserve current programming

The conference committees have been meeting and adopting a few mostly noncontroversial policy provisions.  SEE's side-by-side comparison indicates which of these provisions were adopted and will be in the final education omnibus bill.  Now with the budget targets set, the conference committees will wrap up their work quickly.

With three weeks left in the legislative session, will the Governor and the legislative leaders be able to bridge the deep philosophical divide on their budget priorities for the state?  Is a government shutdown a likelihood?  Stay tuned.

As always, check out Brad's Blog for more detailed information on what is happening at the Capitol.
Governor vows to veto "voucher" legislation
The House and Senate tax omnibus bills both establish a tax-credit private school scholarship program where corporations and individuals can receive significant tax breaks for their contributions.  Donations are used for scholarships for students in low-income families so parents can choose a private school, including religious schools, if they feel it would better meet the needs of their children.  Read more.

Supporters of this program say, not only is it a tool to reduce Minnesota's achievement gap, but it also comes with a relatively small $35 million price tag.  However, in this joint letter to the Governor, Minnesota's public school superintendents, school board members and teachers stand together in opposition to the program.  They point out that nationally, state's that have passed similar scholarship programs have seen exponential growth in the cost over the years.  The letter states, ". . . in 1997, legislative aides estimated the total cost of Arizona's first-in-the-nation tax-credit scholarship program would be $4.5 million annually.  By the 2015-16 school year, it had grown to $140 million.  Pennsylvania's scholarship voucher program started in 2001 at $30 million.  It is now at $175 million.  Florida launched the nation's second tax-credit scholarship voucher program in 2001 with a cost estimated at $50 million.  Next fiscal year, it will cost the state's general fund $699 million."

Until Minnesota's public schools are funded at a level where all students' educational needs are met and schools are able to offer the opportunities to prepare student for the jobs now and into the future that will support Minnesota's prosperity, SEE strongly opposes the tax-credit scholarship program.
What can you do?
Last week, I included an action alert in the update to email the education and tax conference committee members and legislative leadership.  It is not too late to do so.  You can see the details here.  Now is the time to also include the Governor in your communications.  You can copy your emails to him using this contact form.
  If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me. 


Deb Griffiths
Schools for Equity in Education
Director of Communications and Community Outreach