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.
February 22, 2019  
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The Governor's Budget Recommendations
The big news this week was Governor Tim Walz released his 2020-21 budget proposal for his vision of "One Minnesota." He wants to increase spending by a little over $2 billion with $733 million, nearly one-third, going to E-12 education. The budget balances on a $1.2 billion revenue package split evenly between a 20-cent increase to the gas tax and the extension of the expiring provider tax on health procedures and services.

Following are some highlights of the E-12 budget recommendations. 
(Dollars are in thousands)
Increases the general education basic formula by 3% next year and 2% the following year.   $522,602
Increases special education funding & reforms caps in the formulas to hold the cross subsidy steady.
Increases the safe school levy from $36 per pupil to $45 per pupil with a minimum increase of $18,750 per district. The safe school levy will become equalized.  
Maintains 4000 existing voluntary prekindergarten slots.
Increases funding for the full-service community schools grant program.
Provides funding to recruit and retain quality teachers, particularly teachers of color.
Establishes a new grant program for districts to support students experiencing homelessness.
Expansion of the Minnesota Department of Education's (MDE) regional centers of excellence.
Increases the funding to districts for special education kindergarten students to match the funding provided for general education kindergarten students.  
Establishes funding for a Second Chance Agency Director at MDE to design innovative pathways for successful outcomes for at-risk and incarcerated youth.  
Provides MDE funding to double the number of National Board-Certified teachers (NBCTs).
Expansion of high-speed internet in rural MN. ($70 million that is outside of the education budget.)
Grants school boards the authority to renew existing referendums for referendums approved by voters after July 1, 2019, provided the ballot question notifies voters that the board will have this authority. The board authority to renew could be revoked through a reverse referendum.   If 25% of the voters sign a petition, an election will be held asking voters if they want to revoke the board authority to renew.

See all the education recommendations with more detail.  Education Fact Sheet from the Governor's office.  Go to the Minnesota Management and Budget website for complete details of the Governor's budget proposal.  The budget recommendations do contain a few policy provisions, most merely technical in nature, except for the board-approved renewal of existing referendum that is listed above.  
Reaction from the Senate       
The Governor tried to head off criticism of his proposal by pointing out he campaigned on increasing the gas tax and extending the provider tax and still soundly won the election. However, Senator Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Baxter) adamantly opposes increasing or extending taxes. Read more

When polled, Minnesotans continually place transportation and education as their top priorities, and both require predictable on-going funding. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has estimated it will need an increase of $900 million annually for the next 20 years just to maintain and operate Minnesota's current roads and bridges. With a $1.5 billion state surplus, Sen. Gazelka is confident that funding for transportation can come from the general fund and not a gas tax increase. However, the portion of on-going revenue in the surplus is around $450 million and is likely to go down in the February forecast, which the legislature will use as the basis for their budget bills to be released by April 12. It's shaping up to be a bumpy ride to the end of the legislative session.
Where does all the money go?
Minnesota spends 41% of the general fund on E-12 education.  The general fund is funding that the legislature controls and will use for their budget bills this session.  Minnesota collects a considerable amount of additional revenue that is dedicated to specific programs. For example, transportation receives funding from the gas tax, registration fees, and motor vehicle sales tax. Dedicated funding from health access fees and health impact fees goes directly to Health and Human Services. The Department of Natural Resources has funding from hunting and fishing licenses and state park entrance fees. E-12 education does not have a dedicated funding stream. Its funding comes from the general fund.

When all the revenue Minnesota collects and spends is analyzed, E-12 education funding drops to 24 percent of the state budget. Up until last year, very little funding from the general fund went to transportation. Education advocates are concerned that if transportation continues to consume more of the general fund, very little will be left for Minnesota's students and their schools.
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