Votes and Vetoes – Update for April 2-5

/ 6 April 2012 / jennifer

Monday morning, April 16, 2012

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At the Capitol – Update for April 2-5

I am a public school graduate…

This week, read the story of Minnesota’s own “home-grown” Commissioner of Education, Dr. Brenda Cassellius.

School Shift Payback bill vetoed

After floor votes (Senate 35-29, House 75-56), HF2083 was presented to the Governor on April 2. The Governor promised a veto of the bill and did so on April 5 with this veto letter. In an April 3 letter to Gov. Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Senjem wrote…

“As you are aware, the Legislature has approved and is sending you HF2083 (SF2492) which would speed up the scheduled school aid. The cost of the bill is about $430 million, to bring the payment shift to 70.2/29.8 effective for the current fiscal year (FY 2012). In conference committee, we eliminated the policy issues to which you have expressed concern…. Under the most recent budget forecast the state is projected to have a total budget reserve of more than $1 billion. This legislation would reduce the reserve by $430 million, leaving total reserves at $577.6 million ($350 million cash-flow and $227.6 million reserve). In addition the, February revenue exceeded projections by $32 million. Simply put, this proposal will leave over one-half billion dollars in the state’s budget reserve and cash-flow accounts. The state has not had that much cash on hand since 2008, and the amount is more than five times proposed in your supplemental budget just one year ago…. School districts and charter schools strongly support reducing the shift, as more timely payments allow them a better chance to avoid short-term borrowing and related interest costs. We should share the state’s recent economic success with our obligations to the school children of the state. We humbly urge you to sign this legislation.”

A taste of reality: Remember, the proposed payback does NOT ADD money to school budgets. It accelerates the payment of the state’s liability to schools, but does not provide new dollars to those schools. Since the shift last summer, many districts that needed to borrow have done so and have already incurred the related expenses. In testimony, the Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner said an early payback puts Minnesota’s budget in an unstable position, AND it seems to have been forgotten that all forecasts show the next biennium beginning in January 2013 with another deficit in excess of a billion dollars. The structural imbalance in the state budget has yet to be dealt with.

The Second K12 Omnibus bill

In the House: HF2949 (Garofalo) Summary – Early childhood and kindergarten through grade 12 policy and finance provisions modified, reports required, and money appropriated. There was a Delete Everything amendment presented by the author and several amendments attempted by committee members. On the House floor several amendments were also attempted, but none passed. The final bill passed the House 78-54.

In the Senate: SF2482 (Olson) Summary – Education finance provisions modifications. This bill is still sitting out there and is substantially different from the House Omnibus bill. It had its second reading on the Senate floor April 4. I have no idea if there is any intention of moving forward and reconciling the two bills.

A Terrific Primer on Conference Committees

Alice Seuffert, Senior Policy Advocate, Association of Metropolitan School Districts, does a great job showing the ins and outs of conference committees in this blog entry. Thanks to Alice and AMSD for allowing us to share it!

“Last in-First out” Conference Committee wraps up

The HF1870 conference committee report was in hand as the hearing was called to order on Monday, April 2. The committee listened to an amendment presented by Rep. Mariani, voted it down, then accepted the original conference committee report on a 9-1 vote. The next step is passage off both chamber floors and then on to the Governor’s desk.

School land trust bill heading to Conference Committee

Increasing the revenue K12 schools receive from Minnesota’s school trust lands, through HF2244 (Summary), has long been championed by Rep. Denise Dittrich (DFL-Champlin) and the Minnesota School Boards Association. Given the current political climate, the affirmative votes in both the House (104-26) and the Senate (54-8) on this action were nothing short of amazing. There are differences in these two bills so they will head to conference committee. Conferees: House – O’Driscoll, McElfatrick, McNamara, Dittrich, Simon; Senate – Kruse, Bakk, Carlson, Olson, Thompson.

A Look Ahead

The House and Senate adjourned late Thursday afternoon for the Passover/Easter/Spring legislative recess. Bonding bills, stadium, jobs bills—all left undone. They’ll be back at it on April 16. We hope to see you at the Summit the morning of April 16th!

Ask Your Legislators! Question/Comment of the Week
What do you see as your biggest accomplishment this session?

Constitutional Amendments

Bills to amend Minnesota’s Constitution by presenting a ballot question to voters require a simple majority vote in both the House and the Senate. Once passed through both chambers, a governor is unable to affect or veto the bill. At this point, barring litigation, Voter ID will be on the November general election ballot.

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New @ the Website

  • Graduation Rate Update: Minnesota’s graduation rate grew by 3.5 percent from 83.9% to 87.4% from 2002 to 2009, making Minnesota one of six “role model” states. Minnesota is now tied with North Dakota at 87.3%, with only Wisconsin and Vermont graduating a higher percentage of their high school students. Only two states with graduation rates above 80% gained at a higher rate: Wisconsin and Vermont. The report also highlights two Minnesota programs, the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota and the Minnesota Reading Corps, Building a Grad Nation Report: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, America’s Promise Alliance, March 2012 (Growth & Justice article).

  • When it comes to your schools, parents can make a difference – The small group of educators and parents gathered at the Isanti Middle School last Tuesday, March 27, was encouraged to do several things: keep an open mind, listen to the facts and become a fierce advocate for their children’s education, East Central Minnesota Post Review, April 4, 2012.

  • Bill contains new assessment methods for ‘last chance’ schools – Tucked inside the perpetually morphing education omnibus bills now before state lawmakers, House File 2949 and Senate File 2482, are a handful of tweaks that would hand a largely overlooked population of educators relief they’ve sought for six years. Boiled down to the simplest summary, the measures would allow schools that serve uniquely challenged populations to use alternative methods for demonstrating that their students are making meaningful progress, MinnPost, April 2, 2012.

Mary Cecconi, Executive Director
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108
www.parentsunited.orgEmail Mary at

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