Legislative Session Begins January 8! Update for December 2012

A recent Education Weekly blog indicated that one of the five most important education trends of 2012 is “State policy matters more….and so does state leadership.” Parents United has been tracking this trend for over ten years!

The Legislative Session begins Jan. 8, 2013! Get ready for it by attending our Legislative Kick-off on January 5
This is a “don’t miss” conversation for political junkies and newbies alike – and my favorite conversation of the year! We will update you on several state task forces where parents have had a considerable presence this year – Assessments, School Funding and Teacher Evaluation – AND will look through a crystal ball, sharing the wisdom of those in the room to see what we can expect in the coming session. There is no charge for this event but please pre-register so we know to expect you.

“Like” being in-the-know
We are always looking for more Minnesotans interested in knowing in real time what is happening at the Capitol and how it will impact schools and the children they serve. If you know someone who would like to be part of our update list, forward this on and encourage them to sign on to receive these updates directly! It is an easy way to spread the news. During the legislative session, important things happen literally every day. You can hear about those that impact schools as they occur by following us on Twitter and “Like”-ing us on Facebook.

State Budget forecast and schools
The November forecast was released on December 5 (yeah, I know how that sounds – look for the February forecast’s release in March 2013!). The state economist projects enough money in the state budget between now and June 2013 to pay schools $1.3 billion of the $2.4 billion borrowed from them during the 2012 session. This payback follows existing statute, and the dollars will be disbursed to schools before the 2013 session begins.

It is important to remember that these are not “new” or “additional” dollars, but an accelerated payback of what schools were expecting. So don’t think your schools will have a lot more money to spend.

While this is terrific news for schools, Minnesota is still left with the structural imbalance that has given us annual deficits for a decade. The deficit THIS year looks to be $1.1 billion. Once more, legislators and the Governor will have budget decisions to make. They can choose to kick the can down the road again using shifts and gimmicks, or finally tackle the larger issues and make significant structural change to get off the deficit merry-go-round. It will be an interesting session. I hope you stay with us for our weekly updates!

More Budget Information: Minnesota Budget Project is a terrific resource on state and federal budget issues.

Senate Education Action
The Senate Majority announced their committee assignments on Nov. 30 and “pursuant to Senate Permanent Rule 10, the Senate Minority Caucus has 14 days to respond with its members’ committee assignments.”

  • Senate E-12 Division Chair: Senator Chuck Wiger
  • Education Chair: Senator Patricia Torres Ray

House Education Action
The House Majority announced their committee chairs on Nov. 17 and the Minority announced their committee assignments the week of Dec. 4:

  • Education Finance Chair: Rep. Paul Marquart; Minority Lead: Rep Kelby Woodard
  • Education Policy Chair: Rep. Carlos Mariani; Minority Lead: Rep Sondra Erickson
  • Early Education: Rep. Joe Mullery; Minority Lead: Rep. Pam Myhra

 Expect complete committee assignment lists very soon.

Commissioner’s School Funding Working Group
The recommendations from this group provide the school finance system a level of stability not seen in the last decade. A few of the components we can expect from this funding formula fix: less reliance on local voter-approved levies, greater flexibility and more decision-making authority at the local level, a greater attempt to meet Minnesota’s commitment to our students with special needs, and resources to replicate effective strategies for all of our kids!

If it sounds like I am pleased with the recommendations of this group, it is because I am. While there are many who will express concerns with pieces of the report, it is one of the best efforts I have seen to fix a formula that has not been serving our children for more than 10 years.

Stay tuned! We will be your eyes and ears at the Capitol, helping you stay informed on just what is happening on this and so many other school issues that will come up between Jan. 8 and the end of May.

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