June 24, 2011

June 24, 2011

How will we get past this budget impasse?
Since May 23, the state budget debate has been the topic of conversation online, on radio talk shows, neighbor and family debates, numerous letters to the editor and op ed pieces. The issues surrounding this debate are deeply rooted. Governor Dayton responded to legislative leaders in his most current letter dated June 20.

Frustration abounds and the partisan attacks make one leery to enter the battle.

Outside of the Capitol several are weighing in with ideas and plans that might move the debate along. The most recent poll shows 63% of the public believe a balanced approach is prudent. Several ideas are laid out in Thursday’s Strib article by former Independence candidate for Lt. Governor, Jim Mulder.

What does a state shutdown mean for schools?
Some make the case that schools can just live off their fund balances—those who may have them. This MinnPost article does a great job defining just what those fund balances are and what they are to be used for: Why “rainy day” funds won’t make up for budget cuts!

What is the current situation?
The court heard this issue on June 23. Late in the day, it was reported that Judge Gearin said she would likely not rule this week. 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.

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. 

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.

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…

On the federal level
The education focus is on the reauthorization of ESEA legislation (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) commonly known as No Child Left Behind. During his recent visit to Minnesota, Secretary Duncan urged Congress to get the reauthorizations done by the start of school. He has said he would grant waivers to states to bring needed relief to schools while giving Congress more time to work on the issue. In this article, Congressman Kline outlines the changes he believes are needed.

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.

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

 

Critical dates to keep in mind:

  • 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

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

This Week @ the Website

  • Shutdown funding explained – What the laws of the land say about keeping the lights on in the absence of appropriations, Star Tribune, June 23, 2011.
     
  • What bills won’t get paid first? – Payments to School districts may be missed: $369 Million, July 15; $201 Million, July 29, Minnesota Public Radio, June 23, 2011.
  • Watch the FOX 21 video news report – Most students don’t know much about state funding or Minnesota policies. But parents notice when schedules shrink, June 22, 2011.
  • Presentation and discussion – Cincinnati model turn-around school, WEDNESDAY, June 29 – 5:30–7:30 PM. Co-sponsored by Growth & Justice, African American Leadership Forum, Center for School Change and Northside Achievement Zone.
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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