The MSBA Weekly Advocate
Legislative news school boards need to know
Recommendations and Recap

MDE School Finance Working Group Recommendations
The School Finance Working Group wrapped-up their work on Thursday, November 5. The focus of the agenda was to officially present its final report "80-20-10: Bringing Equity to Minnesota's School Finance System" to Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker. Commissioner Ricker thanked all the members of the working group for their perseverance in continuing this important work - not allowing a pandemic to deter their work.

The final 85-page report contains 46 recommendations and strategies for state policymakers to stabilize the state's education funding system and address racial and property tax inequities. The working group - composed of 24 education leaders, parents and community members - including two school board members, John Vento, from Robbinsdale Area Schools and Michelle Borchardt from Tri-City United. The group as a whole met more than 20 times over the past 18 months to identify key pressure points in state education financing and to identify and propose detailed solutions to adequately fund education in the coming decades.

The four key goals of the group are outlined in the executive summary of the report:
The recommendations of the working group contained in this report will enable Minnesota to regain its leadership and truly educate the World's Best Workforce in the following four ways:
● Improving the adequacy and stability of pre-K through grade 12 education funding by restoring the equal basic revenue per pupil regardless of zip-code to 60% of general revenue;
● Targeting revenue to close the achievement and opportunity gaps;
● Improving staff recruitment, retention, and development; and
● Providing equity for communities' taxpayers so that similar tax burdens provide similar resources to educate the children in communities' school systems.

Commissioner Ricker identified the next steps as presenting the report to her staff and the Governor. In closing comments, members of the working group expect to continue the discussions at the legislature in 2021.

2020 Elections in the Minnesota Legislature
The 2021 legislative session will being in January looking largely the same as the previous session. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate retained their majority powers in last week's election.

According to the unofficial results at the Office of the Secretary of State, as of 11:12 a.m. Friday, Republicans picked up five seats in the House; however, the DFL would maintain a 70-64 seat advantage. It is currently 75-59. Record numbers of absentee ballots were requested this year, and some may still need to be counted.

Preliminary results show that seven races have a margin of less than 2.5%:

   6A: Rep. Julie Sandstede (DFL-Hibbing) leading Republican Robert Farnsworth 10,775-10,734 (50.04%-49.85%);
   19A: Republican Susan Akland leading Rep. Jeff Brand (DFL-St. Peter) 11,616-11,508 (50.15%-49.68%);
   26B: Rep. Nels Pierson (R-Rochester) leading DFLer Randy Brock 13,992-13,652 (50.59%-49.36%);
   33B: Rep. Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven) leading Republican Andrew Myers 14,193-13,884 (50.52%-49.42%);
   38B: Rep. Ami Wazlawik (DFL-White Bear Township) leading Republican Elliott Engen 13,904-13,805 (50.12%-49.76%);
   39B: Rep. Shelly Christensen (DFL-Stillwater) leading Republican Joe Garofalo 14,017-13,778 (50.4%-49.54%); and
   55A: Republican Erik Mortensen leading Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee) 10,923-10,364 (47.42%-44.99%). Ryan Martin, a Legal Marijuana Now candidate, received 7.4% of the vote.

By law, "A publicly funded recount of the results of an election for a state legislative office may occur if the difference in the number of votes cast for the apparent winning candidate and any other candidate is less than one-half of 1 percent (0.5 percent)." Candidates can pay for a recount themselves for larger margins.

Speaker Hortman and Majority Leader Daudt will remain in leadership in the House of Representatives.
Senate Majority leader Gazelka will remain at the helm of the Senate, at least for now. The Senate Republicans have a one seat advantage as of Friday afternoon with an official tally still to come from the Secretary of State's office. The Senate Democrats did re-elect Sen. Susan Kent to lead their party in the Senate.