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.
March 29, 2019  
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What is happening at the Capitol
The conference committee on the snow day forgiveness bill reached an agreement on Wednesday. The adopted Senate language lets school districts determine the number of snow days to forgive to meet the minimum days and hours required for student instructional time. For a school district to receive its full state aid when choosing to forgive snow days, the adopted House language requires school districts to compensate hourly employees or allow them to make up lost time and also compensate bus companies. Read more. See SF1743 - the snow days bill language.
 
The long-anticipated spending targets were released.

Education Budget Targets
Governor
House
Senate
$718 million
$900 million
$206 million
 
The governor revised his budget to reflect the smaller February forecast. He is now proposing to spend $718 million, down from his original target of $733 million. The governor made reductions in his previous recommendations by reducing funding for the safe school levy, grants to support students experiencing homelessness and the expansion of the Minnesota Department of Education's Regional Centers of Excellence.
 
In a surprise move, the House topped the governor and spends $900 million on education. That is enough for 3% increases on the basic formula for each of the next two years and still leaves dollars for other funding provisions such as paying down the unfunded cost of special education. However, both the governor and the House rely on increasing taxes including a 20-cent increase to the gas tax and the extension of the provider tax that is set to expire at the end of this year. These two taxes generate approximate $1.2 million. ( Read more .)
 
The Senate set the education target at $206 million. An amount that will not even pay for 2% increases to the basic formula in each of the next two years. The Senate Republicans say the change in education funding is $918 million. However, let's compare apples to apples. The Senate starts with the amount spent on education in the current 2018-2019 two-year budget cycle. The House and the Governor begin with the 2020-21 base which takes into account several factors including the increase in funding due to growing enrollment as it costs more to educate more students, the 4.6% inflationary increase to special education that merely slows down the average annual growth of 8% and previous legislation that is also increasing the cost over the next two years. Thus, the Senate proposes spending $206 million of the $1 billion surplus on education, which is the amount that can provide more funding for the basic formula, special education and other needs within education. The table of the education budget targets above is a direct comparison of spending targets. ( Read more .)
 
The details of how the House and the Senate will spend their education dollars are in the education finance omnibus bills. We hear that the House plans to post the omnibus bill on Saturday, March 29 and the Senate intends to publish its bill on Monday, April 1.
 
The House has a separate committee on early childhood. Funding for early learning programs is through both health & human services, usually for children from birth through 2 years old, and education, mostly for children age 3 and 4 years old.
 
The early learning education omnibus bill, which posted this week, spends $60 million out of the House's $900 million education budget target. The House will fold the bill into the House education finance omnibus bill.
Some notable provisions include:
  • Makes the funding permanent for the 4000 prekindergarten seats that would have expired after this year.
  • Increases funding for early learning scholarships by $12 million. Changes the age of children eligible for early learning scholarships from 3 and 4 years old to birth through 2 years old. Children currently receiving scholarships can continue to do so up to kindergarten and siblings of scholarship recipients can receive scholarships up to age 4. (Consider two things. First, this shifts $140 million per biennium away from preparing 3- and 4-year-old children for kindergarten to very early child development and, second, an argument could be made that early learning scholarships that serve children so young should be funded through health & human services rather than the education budget. An amendment changes the eligible age to span birth to 5 years old. I will update next week if it is adopted.
  • Requires that all early learning education teachers meet the same licensing requirement as K-12 teachers.
  • Read more / New Spending Items / House Research Bill Summary / Bill Text.
 
Note: To keep up with all the education-related omnibus bills, check out the education legislation page on the SEE website where I will post all relevant documents and district by district as they become available.
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me. 

Regards,

Deb Griffiths
Schools for Equity in Education
Director of Communications and Community Outreach
612-309-0089
www.schoolsforequity.org