June 17, 2011

June 17, 2011

Increasing funding to K12 …really?
You may be reading that the GOP has “upped the ante” and added more dollars to the K12 budget and STILL the Governor refuses to accept their budget. Indeed, if you have been talking with majority legislators this is the first thing out of their mouths. Let’s look at this a little more closely

While it is true that the GOP is sweetening the pie by adding dollars to the overall K12 budget, they are still refusing to consider increasing revenue. This means, the additional dollars for K12 will need to be taken from another part of the state budget. Their largesse in adding K12 funds is built on the premise that K12 advocates will grab the money and not care where it comes from. I have a much higher opinion of Minnesotans and simply don’t think that’s true!  The Governor has certainly made it crystal clear that he will not sign a budget that pits Minnesotans against each other. So—the impasse continues.

I am interested in a GOP response to two offers made by Governor:

  • On his desire to tax the top 2%, he offered to consider an exemption for small business, the major reason given for the majority’s refusal to consider said tax.
     
  • And he has asked Legislative Leaders to consider using mediation process to reach agreement.

What does a state shutdown mean for schools?
First, we need to understand the process. The Minnesota Constitution states, “No money shall be paid out of the treasury of this state except in pursuance of an appropriation by law.” Based on this provision, the Governor has submitted to the Ramsey County District Court his “list of those state services which should be continued in the event of a July 1st shutdown and, by their omission, those many services which should not.” The court has scheduled a hearing on this issue for June 23. The court will ultimately decide what are essential services and who are essential employees.

The Governor’s Priority list provides the Minnesota Department of Education with 6 full time equivalents or FTEs. This would mean the MDE would not be open to provide the distribution of funds for schools. (The bulk of Governor Dayton’s list of critical services is reserved for Corrections and Human services.)

Without enough staff at the MDE to distribute funds, individual school districts will need to decide if they have enough cash flow to provide services. Summer school? Rentals of school buildings for outside groups to provide child care or enrichment? These services will be decided at the local level dependent on IF they have the money.

At this point it is wise NOT TO PANIC but also NOT TO HIDE OUR HEADS IN THE SAND.

To add context:
It is important to consider that the fiscal year for schools ends on June 30 so they will have less available funds than at
any other time in the year. It is equally important to consider that for schools to continue beyond their cash reserves they will need to borrow. School districts can only expend what they receive or borrow!

The interest on an unsecured loan is MUCH greater than if you borrow against “anticipated revenues”. It is very difficult to predict what a school’s “anticipated revenue” would be since that is determined by the state and the state budget has yet to be determined. And the ripple effects continue…

What Can I Do?
From my perspective, it would be better for all of us if we didn’t “test” our need for government services and NOT DIVIDE BUT COMPROMISE.

Critical dates to keep in mind:

  • June 23, scheduled court hearing on essential services
  • June 30, without a budget, the state shuts down
  • July 4, when all of a sudden everyone who want to use our great parks get angry when they aren’t open
  • And believe it or not, the first day of school

 

Don’t walk away—this is a CRITICAL time.
To divert a shutdown, we need a huge outcry from Minnesota.

Keep emailing your legislators—we need a compromise
Call them with this message—we need a compromise

  • No one wants to see further cuts
  • No one wins without a compromise
  • No one wants to see Minnesota shut its doors

 

Ask your legislators!
Question of the Week:
“Will you balance the state budget with a mix of revenue and spending cuts?”

Mary Cecconi, Executive Director (mary@parentsunited.org)
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108
651-999-7391
www.parentsunited.org

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