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 18, 2018  
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What is happening at the Capitol
It is down to the final few days before session ends.  

The Governor began this week by issuing an ultimatum that he will not negotiate or sign a tax bill unless he gets his requested $138 million in one-time emergency funding for schools.  Then, he vetoed the Republican tax bill sent to him later in the week.  It is disappointing when a prominent legislator, in response to the need for the school funding, responded in a statement, "These budget shortfalls are not of the state's making."  The basic formula, which is the fundamental funding source from the state, has not kept up with inflation.  See graph.  In fact, Minnesota spends over $2,000 per pupil less on our students in the classroom today than it did for the students in the early 1990s.  

The supplemental finance conference committee finalized the E-12 education articles.   Out of the $329 million surplus, $28 million (or only 9%) will go to E-12 education, .  As school safety was a top Legislative priority, a school safety package accounts for roughly $25 million, $20 million will go to increase the safe school levy, now called safe school revenue, as the increase is direct aid from the state.  Following is the good, the bad and the reality on this measure.  
  • The good news is the safe school revenue can be used for both school facility safety enhancements and mental health professionals - including school resource officers, school counselors, psychologists, etc.  Most SEE school districts say the need for these in-school support professionals is urgent.  
  • Thus, the bad news is that school districts would get a increase of $18 per pupil next year and then a reduction to $5.50 per pupil or a minimum of $30,000 thereafter.  A school district would have to have more than 5,455 pupils to get more than $30,000.  Ninety percent of districts are smaller than that and will receive $30,000, not enough to fully fund a single mental health professional.  
  • The reality is if this funding comes through, expect to hear in the media and through legislator's updates that schools have been given millions so they can make their school safe AND and hire mental health professionals to support the needs of their students.  This sets high public expectations when the actual resources provided will not make this a reality!
There is also $5 million in the safe school package for school-linked mental health grants, which is a competitive grant program with funding going to local clinics or providers that contract with school districts, cooperatives or charter schools to provide mental health services to students in their schools.  Additionally, there is about $3 million for various small one-time grants for school safety and various other programs. 

For more detail, see SEE's side-by-side summary that shows the final education finance and policy provision compared to the House, Senate and Governor's recommendations.  

As always, see Brad's Blog for more detailed information on what is happening at the Capitol.
How is it going to end?
Brad Lundell, executive director of SEE, and I were talking this morning about how the session could wrap-up.   If the supplemental finance omnibus bill gets to the Governor, it will be vetoed. 

If the Governor and the Legislative leaders can reach an agreement it would probably be around their top priorities of education funding and tax breaks, respectively.  Brad predicts that the Governor and the Legislative leaders could work out a tax omnibus bill to conform to the changes made at the Federal level and hold a short special session next week to pass the bill.  If  that is the case, it is also possible that a school safety package could be worked out, as well as additional funding for education as the Governor wants.  We will see. . . .  
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