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.
May 19, 2017  
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Check out Brad's Blog for detailed information on legislative activity
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What is happening at the Capitol
On Wednesday, Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders exchanged global budget offers.   Both sides were cautiously optimistic at the movement.  For E-12 education the Governor dropped to $606 million and the Legislature moved up to $408 million.  This article has the offers and more detailed information. 

In an attempt to meet in the middle, Governor Mark Dayton countered with this global budget offer
, which set off a dispute over what is the midpoint with the Legislature taking this position. Fundamentally, the offers remain far apart in the areas of tax cuts and transportation.  The talks broke off and they did not meet at all yesterday.  However,  both
sides seemed to  converge to a midpoint of approximately $507 million for E-12 education.   If this amount is dedicated to education in a final agreement, I predict 2% increases to the basic formula at a cost of $371 million.   How they divvy up the remaining $136 million will be interesting.  School districts are looking for help with the unfunded cost of special education and the 2% increased contribution required for the teacher retirement account (TRA).  Otherwise, much the 2% increases to the formula will be funneled off to meet these financial challenges.  The Governor and the Legislature also each have other priorities including a desire to invest in early learning education, 


The session must end at 11:59 p.m on Monday.  The Governor and legislative leaders are meeting again.  If they don't find a compromise by the end of today, it will be difficult to process the budget bills and get them to the Governor in time.  Stay tuned. 
 
As always, check out
Brad's Blog for more detailed information on what is happening at the Capitol.
The Governor vetoes the teacher licensure bill
The Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA), the government watchdog, reviewed the current system of how Minnesota licenses teachers so they can teach Minnesota students and called the system broken.  The education policy committees took the recommendations of the OLA in HF140/SF4 that would create a new Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board with complete responsibility for teacher licensure and a 4-tier system with clearly defined qualifications and credentials needed to get a teaching license at each tier.  The chairs of the conference committee, Representative Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) and Senator Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), worked very closely with the Commission of Education Brenda Cassellius to craft a bill that the Governor could sign. Even with a series of amendments to address the Commissioner's concerns, in the end, she recommended to the Governor to veto the bill. Read more.

The Governor indicated that with some further changes to the bill he would be willing to sign it.  Of course, there is that nagging problem of running out of session time.  

What can you do?
I am repeating this call to action from last week because it's not over until it's over!  Continue to make some noise.  Your legislators and key leadership need to hear from you! 

Email your state senator and representativeFind out who represents you with their contact information.

Copy these key legislative leaders (cut and paste into your email):
rep.greg.davids@house.mn, sen.roger.chamberlain@senate.mn, rep.jenifer.loon@house.mn, sen.carla.netson@senate.mn, rep.kurt.daudt@house.mn, sen.paul.gazelka@senate.mn  

Include the governor in your communications.  Cut and paste your email into his contact form.

Key points about the current state of affairs.
  • The legislative session is ending soon on May 22. We expect the legislature and the governor to get their job done and agree on a balanced budget for Minnesota.
  • The state's public schools must be a top priority.
  • The basic formula must be increased to keep up with inflation. Two percent increases each year to the basic formula is the very minimum our schools need to minimize cuts.
  • Lowering the cost of school levies makes the education funding system more equitable and provides immediate property tax relief in low property wealth districts. The 40% agricultural bond credit and increased debt service equalization included in the tax bill from the conference will lower the cost for school building bonds and must be in the final budget agreement. The debt service equalization needs to be made permanent. Help to lower the cost of operating referendums should be included as well.
  • With the growing unfunded cost for special education and the required 2% increase for the school district's contribution to the teacher pension account, school districts need additional resources so increases to the basic formula can be focused on maintaining education opportunities for all students.
These sample letters may help you get started.  
  If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me. 

Regards,

Deb Griffiths
Schools for Equity in Education
Director of Communications and Community Outreach
612-309-0089
www.schoolsforequity.org