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.
February 17, 2017  
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 equalization bill has been introduced
We have a number for the equalization bill.  HF1381 is carried by Representative Joe McDonald (R-Delano) in the House.  SEE Executive Director, Brad Lundell, was able to get an additional 26 coauthors on the bill.  This bill will provide significant property tax relief for working families across the state AND make the education funding system more equitable.  Senator David Senjem (R-Rochester) will carry the Senate companion bill, which will be introduced early next week. 

Here is the district data run that shows how much property tax relief each district would receive through HF1381. 

The cost of this HF1381 is $80 million a year, $40 million in debt service equalization and $40 in referendum equalization.  The governor proposed $19 million in debt service .  equalization over two years in his budget.  This bill provides property tax relief for many SEE districts.  I will send out an action alert soon asking people to contact their legislators and other key state leaders to support HF1381.  The alert will also have talking points and other information to help in your communications. 
What is happening at the Capitol
After a slow start, many education related bills have been introduced and heard in committee over the past few weeks.

Special Education - The Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) evaluated the Minnesota's special education program in 2013.  Among the key findings included the fact that Minnesota exceeds federal requirements in many instances.  The OLA recommended that the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) initiate a independent analysis of the educational and cost impacts of Minnesota's higher requirements.  HF998 (Gruenhagen)) would require this cost-benefit analysis.  A testifier from the National Alliance on Mental Illness stated that she had participated on several working groups that looked into this issue over the years.  Apparently, one of the most expensive requirements is that Minnesota provides services for children with special needs from birth where the federal requirement begins at age 3.  Another cost driver is around Minnesota's requirements for restraint and seclusion.  Trying to contain the significant unfunded cost for special education quickly becomes very difficult and emotional.  However, a transparent analysis would help legislators make informed decisions.  The OLA Summary Report on Special Education.  More Info from the OLA.

Teachers' Retirement Association (TRA)  - the teachers' retirement pension plan is projected to run out of money in the future unless adjustments are made.  Benefit adjustments can be made through the employees (working teachers), retirees and the employers (school districts).  TRA is proposing several solutions which include a 2% increase to the employer contribution spread out over 4 years and lowering the automatic cost of living adjustments (COLA) for retirees.  When questioned by Senate committee members why employee were not asked to contribute more, TRA responded that nationally teachers pay around 6% but Minnesota teachers are paying 7.5% and employers pay 13% nationally while Minnesota employers pay 7.5%.  Additionally, the reduction in COLA will cost the working teachers more over time.  Still, the proposed 2% increase for school districts is significant.  The governor's E-12 budget includes funding to pay for the 1% increase for the next two years but does not include any funding for the other 1% increase over the following two years.  SEE is strongly advocating that the Senate and House include funding for the TRA increases in their education budget bills as well.  Here is additional information:  Implications of Pension Finance on Education Finance
, and TRA Presentation

Much more happened this week down at the Capitol and you can keep up by following Brad's Blog.

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


Deb Griffiths
Director of Communications and Community Outreach