So, what happened at the Capitol?
It’s a wrap —
The Legislative session ended late Sunday night and the highlights of the final agreed-upon bill are below. Before I get into that, let me mention a little bit about the process used to produce this bill.
Over the last years, a process of negotiating a global agreement between key legislative leaders and the Governor has become the norm. From those who have been around here for years, this idea of a pre-determined global agreement setting the parameters of what will and will not be acceptable to the Governor is a new phenomenon. From my perspective as a citizen trying to watch and monitor this process, this new way of doing business is incredibly frustrating.
This year SF3001, the Omnibus Education Policy bill, and HF 6, the Omnibus Education Funding bill, passed through both bodies, then were both vetoed, on May 13, 2008 and May 16, 2008 respectively. The policy bill held provisions with which the Governor disagreed. The funding bill met its demise because it necessitated a two-year moratorium on the use of QComp dollars for NEW school districts interested in entering the QComp program.
That might have been it for relief for our schools for the coming year had it not been for the tenacity of individual legislators and you. Calls that went through on Wednesday and Thursday to the Governor and your local legislators kept the issue alive. Throughout the negotiation process, both the House and the Senate recess floor sessions to caucus: they work within their parties to update the representatives, and the representatives share what they are hearing from their constituents. The more we can affect the caucus debate, the better off we are.
We owe a great deal of gratitude to the education committees chairs: Rep. Greiling, Rep. Mariani, Rep. Slawik, Sen. Stumpf and Sen. Wiger. They really went to the mat to get funding for our schools this year.
Highlights from the education portion of the budget agreement:
$51 per pupil unit in one-time money.
Permission to transfer, one time, $51 per pupil from a school district’s operating capital to their general fund.
Increased revenue for the school milk program.
State advisory council for early childhood education expanded.
Development screening aid increased.
Clarification of the ballot language for districts seeking to renew a referendum levy at the same amount as previously approved.
The elimination of the general fund subtraction for the permanent school fund beginning in 2010 (approximately $30 per pupil).
An extension of the special education task force.
Funding for the Principals’ Leadership Academy.
An increase in lease levy from $100 to $150 per pupil.
Ability to gain teacher licensure through portfolio.
An agreement for K-12 tuition reciprocity for border states.
Safe schools levy set-aside: $3 for students granted last year, now must be used for personnel..
In this issue
A Look Ahead
The $1 billion deficit this year may have seemed daunting, but the projections for next year are even worse.
The most important piece of legislation this year was the “New Minnesota Miracle” bill heard in the House Education Finance committee. This bill is the culmination of the House/Senate task force legislated in 2007 to review and make recommendations for a new school funding formula. This not being a funding year and the fact that this bill greatly improves the funding of our schools, it needs to sit on the back burner until the 2009 legislative session. We need to make sure that it sees the light of day and becomes the conversation for those candidates running for office who will be knocking on our doors this fall.
So that means we need to learn about it (committee hearings on New Minnesota Miracle Bill), ask about it (How to Host a Candidate Forum), and work for it during the session beginning in January 2009.
You made this year happen—you can do the same in the coming year.
In this issue
What Can I Do?
Take a moment to thank those who supported funding for our schools during this session.</p>
Parents United needs to ramp up its efforts in advance of the 2009 session, so please make a donation for our work. We rely a great deal on individual support and value every contribution.
Parents United develops a legislative scorecard each election year. In order to comply with laws governing nonprofit organizations, the report card is available only to our members, defined as those who have made a donation to Parents United. When the report card is ready, postcards with a password for entry to the portal on our website will be sent to members.
Thank you for the inspiration, motivation and support you provide us every day—we couldn’t do this without you.
In this issue
Questions? Email Mary Cecconi
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108
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