All public school children must have equal access to a high quality education regardless of where they live in Minnesota.

Legislative Update  
A communication for education advocates in SEE districts.
January 27, 2017  
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The Governor's budget proposal

Governor Mark Dayton released his budget proposal.  The House and Senate will each release theirs later in the session.  In the end the three bodies will have to negotiate a final two-year budget for Minnesota.

The Governor spends $1.2 billion of the $1.4 billion surplus.  Nearly half of that, $603 million, is directed to E-12 education. A few highlights include:  
  • $371 million - 2% increases to the basic formula for each of the next two years. Funding the formula is expensive as this money benefits every public student in the state.  SEE is advocating for 3% increases to the basic formula.
  • $40 million - Reduction in the special education cross subsidy, which is the unfunded cost of special education services.  This is appreciated but to keep it in perspective, the current cross subsidy is over $600 million. 
  • $68 million - Partial offset to help school districts pay for employer contribution increases, projected to be 2.5%, in the teacher retirement fund (TRA).  In committee, the Commissioner said it covers a half percent per year but it looks like it is a quarter percent next year and a half percent for the following three years.  It is helpful for school districts that this funding is not lumped into the basic formula, but recognizes that this is to assist school districts with a rising cost that is outside of the classroom. 
  • $19 million - Increase to debt service equalization to reduce the taxpayer cost for school bonds.  It is disappointing that this is in the E-12 budget.  Previously, the Governor had included it in the tax bill where it does not compete for dollars that could go to the classroom. 
  • $75 million - Expansion of voluntary preK, increasing the number of children able to access voluntary preK from 3,300 to 6,800.
The Governor also included a number of smaller appropriations for programs that target at-risk children and additional funding for the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) for specific purposes.   
Here is more detailed information.
School choice

It was school choice week at the Capitol.  On Tuesday, three education committees took up HF386 (Kresha-R)/SF256 (Chamberlain-R) bills  The bill extends the individual K-12 education-expense tax credit to include private (both secular and religious) school tuition.  It also creates scholarships where donors can contribute to foundations that will direct the money in scholarship form to low-income students in private schools.  The donors will receive a tax credit for their donations.  It has a relatively small cost of $35 million.  Still, it pits those who want to expand parental choice to private schools, claiming public schools are failing their children, against those who oppose any state dollars shifted to private schools instead of being used to strengthen public schools.  Read more here or here.  This is not a true voucher program but it seems like one step closer to getting there.

It is clear that school choice will be a top priority for the Republicans who control the House and Senate.  First, HF386/SF256 each have influential authors. Second, many Republican committee members expressed their frustration that the Governor's budget proposal lacked new reforms to reduce the achievement gap, particularly school choice.  The Democrats responded that the Governor's proposal prioritizes getting funding to school districts where the districts will have local control to address the needs of their students. 

As always, check out Brad's Blog for more detailed information on what is happening at the Capitol. 

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me. 


Deb Griffiths

Director of Communications and Community Outreach


Schools for Equity in Education | 1884 Como Avenue | St. Paul | MN | 55108