House and Senate Budget Targets – The Big Picture
The House announced their overall budget targets last Monday. The House proposal includes $2 billion in tax cuts as well as setting aside $100 million to the state budget reserve. The House also cuts about $1.1 billion from Health and Human Services spending, spends about $3 billion less than Gov. Dayton and increases state spending by about 1.7%.
The Senate announced their budget proposal Friday and ended up in the middle of both Gov. Dayton and the House with their spending level falling right between the two. Sen. Bakk said their proposal cuts less in taxes than the House proposal and it spends less revenue than Gov. Dayton’s proposal. The Senate also sets aside $250 million for the budget reserve, more than double what the House set aside. The House has $319 million unallocated as compared to the Senate amount of $13.5 million. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate budget targets:
In the coming month the House and Senate will pass their budgets out of their respective committees where they will ultimately meet in a conference committee to work out the differences between the two bodies and the Governor.
In contrast to the Governor’s overall E-12 education target of almost $700 million, the House and Senate education targets are very disappointing. The House target, being the lowest at $157 million, would not even match the Governor’s 1% formula increase. To provide some context, the cost of increasing the formula by 1% per year is $174 million. The Senate target, while better at $350 million, is challenging when you take into consideration all of the priorities laid out by Senate Democrats – universal pre-k, facilities, concurrent enrollment, and formula increases.
During today’s Senate DFL press conference, Sen. Katie Sieben said there would be concerns from E12 groups that education spending is not as high as should be but she hopes that improves. Rep. Jenifer Loon expressed frustration given her committee target and said she will do what she can with limited funding. “I think we’re going to make a valiant effort with the budget target we’ve been given to make investment options for students,” said Rep. Loon. “It’s not only the money, but also giving districts the flexibility to do the best they can for their students.”
Most frustrating about these targets is that House leaders are taking into consideration increases from last biennium and presuming the E-12 has had enough increases over the last several years. Most notably, they are referring to $1 billion increase when comparing last biennium to next biennium. This increase is because of pupil growth (all-day kindergarten), special education increases and shift payback.
What can you do?
Legislators are home on a break through April 6. Now is a good time to connect with them. Neither the House and Senate budget targets, nor the Governor’s recommendations allow for inflationary increases in the per-pupil formula let alone anything additional spending on other areas. They need to know what impact the education budget targets will have on their schools.