A Communication for Education Advocates in SEE Districts - May 8, 2020
What is happening at the Capitol?
The department of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released an interim May forecast to see how the coronavirus has impacted the state budget. Since the February forecast, Minnesota went from a $1.5 billion surplus to a $2.426 billion deficit. The deficit is for the current biennium that ends on June 30, 2021. Although the state has a healthy budget reserve of $2.359 billion, Governor Tim Walz and MMB Commissioner Myron Frans do not think it is prudent to rely solely on the budget reserve. Still, they would use it to buy time for state leaders to determine the best course of action to take during this uncertain and volatile time.   Read more  / Immediate reactions from the main legislative leaders / MMB budget details

The legislative session ends in just over a week on Monday, May 18. Earlier this week, the legislative leaders said that due to the logistics of getting bills produced during the coronavirus, all committee chairs must finalize agreements by Saturday, May 9, at midnight. 

Chair Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) of the Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee said she has been meeting with the three education committee chairs in the House – Chair Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis) of the
House Education Finance Committee, Chair Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins) of the House Education Policy Committee. Chair Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul) of the House Early Childhood Committee is also included as this committee has jurisdiction over the early learning scholarships. Chair Nelson said the conversations have narrowed down to provisions where there is bipartisan consensus.  The House education committees have processed relatively short education omnibus bills. The Senate has not.  You can find more information on the bills on this page of the SEE website

Predicting the actions of the legislature is always tricky business. However, it looks like an agreement will be reached to assist districts through distance learning and the impact of coronavirus. Schools will probably get the flexibility to transfer unused general education fund balances to pay for costs associated with distance learning and receive full funding for the 2019-20 school year. SEE has this side by side analysis that compares the Senate’s version of the education coronavirus aid package, the House education finance omnibus, which is the coronavirus aid package with a few additional provisions, and the House education policy omnibus. I also included a few notes based on the bills that were heard in committees the past couple weeks and comments made by the chairs of the education committees. Provisions found in both the Senate and a House column are likely to be in the final agreement and become law. 

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) updated the Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee on the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) act in regards to the Minnesota school emergency relief funding. The bulk of the funding, $140 million, will go directly to school districts based on the Title-1 formula, which is based on the concentration of poverty in a school district. MDE is finalizing the process with the federal government and expects to notify districts soon that the application process is open. Districts will have to fill out an online form documenting how the funds will be used. Upon MDE approval, the CARES funding will be sent directly to the school districts through the current SERVE system. MDE expects that districts will begin to see the revenue in about a month. Here is the MDE CARES Funding presentation with more details.  
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me.


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