A Communication for Education Advocates in SEE Districts - March 26, 2021
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What is happening at the Capitol (via Zoom)?
This week the House released its budget targets for each area of the government. Following are the targets for E-12 education from the three players who will negotiate the final education omnibus bill.  (Governor: $745 million /  House: $722 million / Senate: $152 million) Both the Governor and House budgets depend on raising taxes on the most prosperous Minnesotans and corporations. The Senate has made it clear it will not support any final budget agreement with tax increases.
In January, the Governor released his education budget proposal.  This week he revised the budget to reflect the state’s new surplus of $1.6 billion projected in the February forecast. In education, the most significant change holds compensatory funding harmless (funding for students from low-income families). Districts would receive the same average compensatory funding this year as last year. During Covid, students are not required to fill out a form to show that they qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. As compensatory funding is based on the number of eligible students, most districts are experiencing a significant drop in this critical funding stream that supports Minnesota’s most vulnerable students. Also, the House is looking at increasing compensatory funding as well. 
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This week, the Senate passed a series of bills intended to help students, families, and teachers recover from Covid related learning loss. The bills reiterate that all students must take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) this spring, delays the creation and implementation of new academic standards, allows more people to qualify as short-term substitute teachers through a pilot program, and provides school districts with more flexibility to transfer existing funds as needed.  (SF628, SF438, SF819 and, SF710, respectively).  It appears the Senate is moving separate policy bills rather than an overall education policy omnibus. Read Brad’s Blog entry on this committee meeting and the policies and politics involved.

To get the bill to the Governor by April 15, the House passed its summer learning plan (HF1064) off the floor and sent it to the Senate. It does not appear the Senate has much interest in moving the bill separately at this point.

The Legislature is on a spring break next week. The final education omnibus bills must pass through the education finance committees and the finance committees by Friday, April 9.  The House plans to introduce its education omnibus bill on March 31, and the Senate will soon follow.  

As the Legislature is on break next week, the SEE legislative update will be on hiatus too. The update will resume the following Friday to provide the details on the House and Senate education omnibus bills. However, I will post the omnibus bills and other related information when available on this page on the SEE website.
As always, check out Brad's Blog for more detailed information.
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
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