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 15, 2019  
Quick Links:

Check out Brad's Blog for detailed information on legislative activity
If this communication was forwarded to you, you can sign up to receive it directly. 
The Governor's Budget Proposal
On Tuesday, February 19, Governor Tim Walz will release his budget proposal for the upcoming biennium. The Governor has repeatedly said one of his goals is to reduce the reliance on school levies and create a mechanism to bring dollars to education in a more equitable way.  It sounds like the Governor will propose "a plan" to reach his goal over time, which makes sense as the magnitude of the problem is so large. The basic formula, the primary per-pupil funding source from the state, has severely eroded as it has not kept pace with inflation. Minnesota spends $1,416 per pupil less on the students in the classroom today than it did for the students in the classroom in the early 1990s. Also, the unfunded cost of providing the mandated services for special education students in over $700 million and growing rapidly. Districts trying to make up for this inadequate funding has undoubtedly created the reliance on school levies. Read more about these funding challenges.
Today at 3:00 pm, Denise Specht, President of Education Minnesota (EM), the teachers' union, will hold a news conference to release EM's estimate of the cost to fully fund public education. The cost estimate will set the stage for the Governor's education proposals in his budget.
What is happening at the Capitol
A bill allowing school boards to renew expiring voter-approved referendums was heard in the House Policy Committee this week and is scheduled in the House Education Finance Committee next week. Proponents pointed out that over the past five years, 82 renewals were on the ballot and all 82 passed. Cities, counties and state elected officials do not have to go before the voters to fund critical operations. School board members hold the same election certificates as other elected officials and can be voted out of office if they act against the will of their voters. Opponents to the bill were against taking away the rights of taxpayers to vote against a tax and removing the opportunity for districts to engage with their community when renewing referendums. Read more. The bill was approved on a party-line vote of 11-7 to proceed to the education finance committee, with all the DFLers voting yes and all Republicans voting no. Board renewal of existing referendum, even though there is no increase in taxes for the local voters, will be a tough sell in the Republican-controlled Senate. HF116/SF109
The House Education Policy Committee took on another thorny issue, allowing districts to start the school year before Labor Day. (HF314/SF918) Evidence suggests that the long summer break contributes to the achievement gap. School administrators also want the flexibility to have more school days before state testing.  As in previous attempts, the bill met with stiff resistance from the hospitality and tourism industries, especially Minnesota resort owners, along with the state and county fairs organizations, who have grave concerns about the vitality of their businesses if this became law. A more limited bill (HF531/SF412) was also heard that would allow school districts to start on August 31 for the 2020-21 school year and on August 30 for the 2021-22 school year as Labor Day falls quite late in September in these two years. Read more.
Both the House and Senate education finance committees heard a bill that would provide evidence-based online training for teachers statewide on suicide prevention and engaging students in crisis. Teachers are on the front-line and often are the first to identify when students are in crisis. Giving teachers the tools to intervene can save lives. As this bill has bipartisan support, it is likely to show up in the final education finance omnibus bill.  HF813/SF734

The Senate E-12 Finance and Policy Committee took up five bills designed to reduce special education paperwork.  Read more

As always, check out Brad's Blog for more detailed information on what is happening at the Capitol.  
Committee Deadlines
Deadlines to process bills are as follows.
Friday, March 15 - Committees must act favorably on policy bills in the house of origin.
Friday, March 19 - Committees must act favorably on policy bills, or companion bills, that met the first deadline in the other body.
Friday, April 12 - Committees must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills.
Also, leaders added more deadlines intended to provide transparency and pave the way to a smooth end of the session.
Wednesday, May 1 - The House and Senate will pass all major finance bills off their respective floor and leadership will appoint the conference committee members.
Monday, May 6 - The Governor, Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House will set budget targets for all areas of government.
Monday, May 13 - Conference committee reports - the final omnibus bills - will be completed and sent to the house of origin.
Leadership made clear that setting budget targets and completing the omnibus bills does not mean that the House or Senate must pass them or the Governor must sign them until there is a final negotiated agreement on both budget and policy items between the House, Senate, and Governor. Read more.
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