1 + 1 = 2 – Update for April 12, 2013

Mark Your Calendar

Simple math tells us that 1+1= 2

If you like the increase in school funding provided in this session’s Omnibus bills – and each, like the governor’s budget, invests substantial dollars in schools – please understand this can’t happen unless the tax bill passes. In other words:

Raising taxes = money for schools
Not raising taxes = no money for schools

Not everyone is convinced of this equation. From the Associated Press: Minnesota Business Partnership and Chamber of Commerce Launch Anti-Tax Ad Campaign. Who do these business groups represent?

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce… “is the largest and premier business advocacy organization” and “is the most aggressive lobbying organization at the capitol representing Minnesota business.” – MN Chamber of Commerce website

Minnesota Business Partnership: “Membership is limited to chief executives of larger Minnesota employers or in the case of companies headquartered outside the state, the highest-ranking representative in Minnesota.” – MN Business Partnership website

Omnibus bills released, debated, amended and passed out of education committees

House Omnibus K12 Education Finance and Policy Bill HF630 highlights:

 “In this bill, 97% of dollars go to the parents (for early childhood scholarships), the classroom or property tax relief” –Chair Marquart

$550 million new investment

$15.7 billion over the biennium (current state education expenditure $15.5 billion)

  • Optional All Day K
  • Early childhood scholarships
    • $50 million for scholarships for families with 3- and 4-year-olds who have income less than 185% of the federal poverty level to attend public or private preschools.
    • 2% on the per pupil formula each of the next two years
      • $104 on the per pupil formula in 2014
      • an additional $109 on the formula in 2015.
      • New integration program: Achievement and Integration in Minnesota (AIM)
      • Equalization aid
      • Funding to expand Minnesota Department of Education Regional Centers of Excellence around the state
      • Requires the education commissioner to identify and report measures demonstrating success in increasing 4 year graduation rates
      • Provides for a Career and Technical Education advisory task force
      • Allows for a local decision to begin school before Labor Day, with the proviso that school not be held the Thursday and Friday prior
      • Provides for a School Climate Center and Climate Council to deal with bullying, harassment prevention
      • Expands Reading Corps and provides for a Math Corps in MN
      • Provides for a Teacher licensure task force to make recommendations for teacher candidates to demonstrate mastery of basic skills (looking at the MTLE test)
      • Increases state aid for school lunches by $.01 per lunch
      • English language learners funding expanded from 5 years to 7 years
      • Increase and expanded use of safe schools levy
      • Provides funding to replaces GRAD test with a suite of assessments more relevant for students to explore and plan for college/career
      • Requires at least 165 days of school
      • Requires school districts to provide mental health instruction for students in grades 6-12.
      • Requires teachers renewing their teacher license to acquire more in-depth understanding of topics related to mental illness in children and adolescents
      • Standard high school diploma for adults.
      • Special education case load task force
      • Requires the commissioner to appoint an Indian education director to serve as a liaison

Note: The Senate will not be combining policy and finance in their Omnibus bill, but processing them separately.

Senate Omnibus Education Finance SF 453 highlights:

“This bill works to close the achievement gap, provides all children with All Day K, early childhood scholarships, $52 on the formula for each student, Reading and Math Corps help with special education costs and vocational education”. –Chair Wiger

$356 million new investment

$15.6 billion over the biennium (current state education expenditure $15.5 billion)

  • Optional All-Day K
  • Early childhood scholarships
  • 1% on the per pupil formula in 2015
    • $52 on the per pupil formula in 2015
    • Increased compulsory education from age 16 to 17
    • Integration revenue
    • Provides funding to replaces GRAD test with a suite of assessments more relevant for students to explore and plan for college/career
    • Increase to school lunches $.02
    • $9 million for special education
    • Appropriation for Principals Academy
    • Small General education levy
    • Deferred Maintenance
    • Investments in career and technical programs
    • Increases in safe school levies
    • Reduction in property taxes
    • Expands Reading Corps and provides for a Math Corps in MN
    • No child eligible for reduced lunch can be denied school lunch

Senate Omnibus Education Policy SF 978 highlights:

  • Clarification of teacher candidate basic skills requirements and licensure
  • Requires at least 165 days of school
  • Requires school districts to provide mental health instruction for students in grades 6-12.
  • Requires teachers renewing their teacher license to acquire more in-depth understanding of topics related to mental illness in children and adolescents
  • Requires mental health education curriculum in schools
  • Compensatory revenue can be used for early education and parent outreach efforts
  • Career and technical education advisory task force established
  • Teacher licensure advisory task force established
  • Requirement for commissioner to seek consultation with the Tribal Nations Education Committee on all issues relating to American Indian education
  • Provide for a standard high school diploma for adult students

A Look Ahead

This is a fluid process and bills are now outside of the education committees. Chairs Marquart and Wiger will present their respective omnibus bills in Finance, Taxes, Ways and Means – and eventually back on the floor for a full floor debate and vote. In each of the places this bill stops, amendments are possible.

Amendments can place whole bills that didn’t make it through the committee process back into the bill, or can amend whole provisions out. Many times an amendment changes the entire intent of a provision. Example: “A school board may” is amended to “A school board must” and permissive language is changed into a mandate.

There are five weeks left and these bills will be making the rounds. Each time the bill is amended, the new language is “engrossed” into the updated version. You may see HF630 as introduced, 1st engrossment, 2nd engrossment etc. The latest engrossment will be the bill that you want to read.

If you would like to plan a Capitol visit and need a little help—call us!!! It is always a good idea to check the House/Senate schedule the morning of your visit. Hearings and agendas are often changed.

Bills scheduled to be heard this week

House Education Finance
HF1491 (Isaacson) Intermediate school districts authorized to sell and issue facility bonds upon adoption of a resolution.
HF1019 (Metsa) School district energy conservation program pilot project funding provided, and money appropriated.
HF1003 (Morgan) Minnesota math corps program established and money appropriated.
HF1401 (Mullery) Special School District No. 1, Minneapolis, grant money appropriated for community engagement and empowerment.
HF924 (Davnie) State aid increased for developmental screening, students over the age of 21 who attend a contract alternative program authorized to continue to receive instruction at that school until graduation, pupil transportation options modified, and school district bonding authority extended.
HF1645 (Bernardy) College concurrent enrollment program full funding provided, and money appropriated.
HF1383 (Newton) Special education caseloads task force established, and report required.
Delete-all amendment to HF630 – omnibus education finance and policy bill.

Committee Documents:
HF630 delete-all amendment
Delete-all amendment appropriations spreadsheet
HF630 delete-all amendment levies spreadsheet
HF630 delete-all amendment district runs

Senate Education
S.F. 978 Torres Ray Omnibus education policy bill.
S.F. 453 Wiger Omnibus pre-kindergarten through grade 12 education provisions modifications and appropriations.

And on the Federal side?

From a press release from U.S. Department of Education:

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION 2014 BUDGET PRIORITIZES KEY EDUCATION INVESTMENTS TO PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL AMERICANS

Core proposals would strengthen the middle class by expanding preschool education, building on reforms that work, and making college more affordable

The Obama Administration continued to prioritize education in the 2014 budget released today by proposing key investments in education that would strengthen the middle class, grow the economy and provide opportunities for success to all Americans – especially our nation’s most vulnerable children. Without adding to the deficit, the President’s FY 2014 budget invests $71 billion in discretionary funding for the Department, an increase of 4.5 percent over the FY 2013 pre-sequester level.

“We must continue to build on the reforms already transforming classrooms across the country,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Strategic investments in our educational system will not only provide more opportunities for millions of Americans, but they will strengthen our nation’s workforce as well.”

The cornerstone of the President’s education investments will expand high-quality early learning opportunities to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. Read more…

________________

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