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.
April 12, 2019  
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What is happening at the Capitol
The Senate released its E-12 education finance and policy omnibus bill.
 
Chair Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) said the bill focused on students and prioritized the basic formula, school safety, and early learning. She also noted that the bill does not raise taxes. Compared to the House's ($900 million) and Governor's ($718 million) budget targets. The Senate set a low target at $206.5 million, which limited the support it can provide to schools. Funding their top priorities exceeds the budget target. The Senate utilized unspent dollars from the last two-year budget and made cuts in other education program areas to provide more funding.  The Senate's increases to the basic formula of one-half percent for each of the next two years on the basic formula seems quite meager, especially when compared to the increases of 3% next year and 2% the following year as proposed by the Governor and the House.  I expect the Senate to agree to a higher percentage in final negotiations. However, starting at such a low point is unsettling.
 
Although the half-percent formula increases are ongoing, the funding for school safety and early learning only lasts for the next two years as proposed by the Senate. School districts will receive $38 per pupil with a minimum set at $32,000 per district, all in direct state aid, not local levy. Safe school revenue is a desirable approach for school safety as the funding can be used for physical enhancements to school buildings as well as student support staff like counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Many SEE school districts desperately want to provide more mental health support for their students. The need is high. However, it's challenging to hire support staff when the funding goes away in two years. For early learning, the Senate adds $45 million in additional Pathway I early learning scholarships for the next two years.
 
You can compare funding provisions proposed by the Governor, House, and Senate in the SEE side-by-side comparison summary. I will add the policy provisions. 
 
Note:  All the information on the education omnibus bills from the governor, House, and Senate, including the SEE side-by-side comparison summary and per district revenue data runs, will be posted on the Education Legislation page on the SEE website as the information becomes available.
What is next?
Legislators are on spring break for ten days until April 23. The House and Senate will come back to pass their major finance omnibus bills off their respective floors. An education conference committee will be appointed with an equal number of House and Senate members to begin the negotiations to produce a single E-12 education finance and policy omnibus bill. Leadership set Wednesday, May 1, as the deadline to have this completed.   The conference committee can work on policy but must have an education budget target to finalize the omnibus bill. Leadership set Monday, May 6 as the deadline to provide the conference committee with budget targets. Education advocates need to act within this timeframe and contact their legislators and critical leadership with a strong message that the education target must be set high to prevent or minimize cuts to valuable programming that Minnesota children need and deserve. Look for an action alert with more information in the place of the usual SEE's legislative update on April 26.
Major budget provisions in the Senate education omnibus bill include:
 
($95 million) - Increases the general education basic formula by 0.5%, a $31 per pupil increase, next year and 0.5%, a $32 per pupil increase, the following year. 
($74.5 million) - For FY20 and FY21 only, provides $38 per pupil with a minimum of $32,000 in safe school revenuefor school districts.  Provides safe school revenue of $38 per pupil for charter schools.  Increases the safe school revenue for intermediates and cooperatives.  Expands uses for the safe school revenue.  Districts and charters must report how it spends the safe school revenue to MDE.  All increases to safe school revenue is state aid, not levy, and ends after the 2020-21 school year.  
($44.5 million) - Increased funding for early learning scholarships over the next two years then this increased funding stops. 
($5 million) - Provides grant funding for school-linked mental health grants that bring the mental health services and clinics to the school sites.
($3.8 million) - Moves Professional Educator Licensing Standards Board (PELSB) fees from a special revenue fund to general fund, this is a transfer and not new spending money.
($3.5 million) - Expands eligibility to students who qualify for free and reduced lunch for reimbursement for transportation expenses to postsecondary enrollment options (PSEO) programs where students earn both high school and college credit. Clarifies that private, public, or shared transportation all qualify for reimbursement.
($3 million) - Establishes a grant program forP-TECH schools, which are public-private partnerships preparing students for jobs in the STEM industry.  
 
See the complete list of budget items and compare education spending proposed by the Governor, House and Senate.
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