Throughout the legislative session MASA Lobbyist Valerie Dosland, Ewald Consulting, will be providing our members with an legislative update. We encourage you to share your thoughts with your elected officials as the opportunity arises...
Today the Minnesota Management and Budget released its latest budget forecast for fiscal years 2016-2017. According to the forecast the state will have a budget surplus of $1.8 billion, which is an increase of $800 million over the previously estimated near $1 billion surplus predicted last November. The House, Senate, and Governor will take this new budget information into account as they continue develop their respective budgets. Governor Dayton is expected to provide update budget recommendations March 9 and has indicated he will include full funding for his universal Pre-K proposal as well as tuition funding in higher education.
LIFO takes a pause
HF2, the bill that makes changes to LIFO, out-of-state teacher licensure and the MTLE exam, was expected to be debated by the full House on Thursday but at the last minute pulled and instead sent to the House Ways and Means Committee. Yesterday, a fiscal note was provided showing a fiscal impact that had not been accounted for so the Ways and Means must look at the bill. Expect a vote on the bill next Thursday.
Commissioner confirmation hearing
Commissioner Cassellius’s confirmation was passed by the Senate E-12 Finance Committee this week and will be forwarded to the full Senate for final action.
Universal Pre K bill stalls in House
The House Education Policy committee tabled Rep. Erin Murphy’s bill this week on a party line vote. Republican members indicated that the Governor’s bill, which includes a substantial commitment to universal Pre-K, is already in the education finance committee.
Senate Republicans announce education funding priorities
Senate Republicans held a press conference announcing their education finance priorities. They include a 3% per pupil increase on the formula delinks the general education revenue to compensatory from the formula. Senate Republicans also indicated their bill would include a provision that would give districts flexibility regarding complying with state mandates. No specific bill or language was provided and members indicated that policy provisions would be coming soon. It is unknown whether or not the Senate DFL Majority will hear any of these bills once they are introduced.
Education tax credit and deduction bills advance in the House
A handful of education tax credit and deduction bills advanced from the House Education Finance Committee to the House Tax Committee. The major education organizations all testified against the bills citing that the general education revenue has not kept pace with inflation and that the constitution obligated funding public schools.
First committee deadline only three weeks away
As we head into March, and closer to the first bill deadline on March 20, committees will begin to hear increasingly more bills and likely begin evening committee hearings. This week, the committee schedules are especially packed.
Committee hearings – this week
On Tuesday, the Senate E-12 Budget Division heard SF155, which proposes to increases school readiness aid by $5 million per year. On Thursday, the committee heard two bills (SF163 and SF541) to increase the per-pupil formula. SF163 proposes to increase the formula by $300 per year. SF541 proposes a 4% increase each year as well as ties future increases to inflation. A long list of testifiers – superintendents, business managers and school board members were on hand expressing support for these bills and the dire need for formula increases.
On Thursday, the House Education Innovation Policy Committee heard the first of several bills to provide increased funding for concurrent enrollment programs.
Committee hearings – next week
On Tuesday, the House Education Innovation Policy Committee will hear a long list of bills including another bill to fund concurrent enrollment and a bill calling for a teacher loan forgiveness program.
The Senate E-12 Budget Division will hear a bill to establish general education disparity aid, a bill to increase metro area school district local optional revenue. On Thursday, the committee will hear a bill to create a digital backpack for student data, a bill to increase funding for concurrent enrollment and legislation establishing a school year long student teaching process.
Bill Introductions of Interest
SF1001 Modifying student discipline provisions
SF1002 Modifying certain individualized education program provisions
SF1067 Requiring school districts to include a grade promotion or retention policy in strategic plans
SF1090 Requiring school districts to unseal expunged criminal records for prospective teachers
SF1093 Creating a new source of state aid for school districts below average revenue
SF1124 Providing for teacher development and evaluation revenue and equalized levy
SF1141 Implementing a school facilities improvement revenue plan
SF1173 Establishing basic needs revenue
SF1185 Providing for placement of a practice or student teacher
SF1206 Establishing full-service community schools
HF1259 Authorizing early education services for certain students from adjoining states
HF1270 Requiring public high school students to take the Minnesota comprehensive assessments in order to graduate