Update for May 1, 2015: Change the Outcome

This Week at the Capitol

Wondering what’s happening with the 2015 E12 Omnibus bills? Each bill has passed off the floor of their respective chamber and is waiting to begin the conference committee process. The House E12 Omnibus bill passed on a 69-61 vote, while the Senate passed TWO education omnibus bills—one policy (53-13) and one funding (39-28).

It will be interesting to see how they reconcile three bills. Strategically, it’s not a bad way for the Senate to avoid accepting policy they disagree with as a trade for a higher House spending target.

The House conferees—Reps. Loon (R-Eden Prairie), Erickson (R-Princeton), Dettmer (R-Forest Lake), Kresha (R-Little Falls) and Peterson (R-Lakeville)—are all from the majority party. The Senate appointed Sens. Wiger (DFL-North St. Paul), Stumpf (DFL-Thief River Falls) Dahle (DFL-Northfield) A. Johnson (DFL-Blaine) and Pratt (R-Prior Lake).

Honestly, House and Senate education spending targets are so disparate that until this issue is resolved, a final agreement cannot be negotiated. Conference committees can’t complete the bills until the Governor, Speaker of the House and Majority Leader as well as minority leads reach a global agreement on how the state budget should be invested.

With the session coming to an end on May 18, this global agreement will have to be made soon.

We have time to impact that decision!

You may be sick of hearing this—we’re sick of saying it–but neither the House nor Senate education target is adequate. Either target spells C-U-T-S for schools. The message is clear…Raise the targets! #more4kidsmn

Read on…..

 

Share a LOUD Message

Parents United and many education groups want to share a loud message this Monday, May 4 as conference committees prepare to begin: NO MORE CUTS TO EDUCATION!

In a year of surplus, neither the House nor Senate budget targets for schools are enough. We are tired of cuts – we are tired of lost opportunities and large class sizes. We are tired of raising money to fund necessities. We are tired of running levy campaigns in our districts just to keep things on an even keel. The kids who are in school right now get ONE chance to learn: Childhood has no rewind!

On Monday, there will be a press conference with statewide representation from a parent, student, principal, school board member, teacher and superintendent with a united voice, saying the House and Senate targets are too low!

When: Monday, May 4—10 am
Where: State Office Building, Room 181
Who: All who care—your presence will speak volumes to legislators

Join us after the press conference to deliver letters to leadership, Majority Leader Bakk and Speaker of the House Daudt. If you, too, would like to bring a letter to hand deliver, see below for suggestions.

Parking and map of the area

If you are on light rail, the green line will drop you off at the Capitol/Rice stop. The State Office Building side doors face University—enter here. We are on the ground floor, Rm 181.

Come early—be there at 9:45. Bring your signs – #more4kidsMN; share the surplus; Childhood has no rewind! Whatever your message…make it personal–share what you schools will lose, share how this affects your district!

Yes, feel free to bring your kids!

 

If you cannot be there, your voice still has a role on Monday:

At 10am on Monday, offer your virtual support: email your legislators and House Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Bakk. When you send your email to Speaker Daudt, cc Rep. Jenifer Loon and Senator Chuck Wiger’s Committee Administrator.

At 10am on Monday, tweet!!! #more4kidsmn @ParentsUnitedMN (because we’d love to hear what you are up to) #mnleg #mndfl #mngop @kdaudt @tombakk

 

Letter suggestions?

When you write your legislators, write in your very first sentence that you are their constituent.

Your personal experiences are gold, but you can start here–cut and paste or put this in your own words. Finish up with something from the heart.

Both the Senate and the House targets for education are inadequate. Schools around this state will be poised to cut more opportunities, including many arts and career and tech education programs. Class sizes will increase. We know that on average, over the last 15 years, funding to the basic per pupil formula has increased less than the rate of inflation. In my district…

 

A Word about the State Budget Surplus

You may have heard a friend opine that when a state has a budget surplus after years of budget deficits, it is the time to hold onto those dollars for a rainy day. Let’s take a look at that idea.

Minnesota’s current budget surplus is not due to a blip or overtaxing. The reason the state has a budget surplus is that greater revenue has come into state coffers and expenditures have been less than expected. The unemployment rate has dramatically fallen. With more people working, there are more tax dollars and less costs to state programs.

Budget reserves have been replenished and 2013 legislation increased the amount required to be placed in those reserves. The cash flow account has been filled and all accounting shifts have been paid back. In budget terms, this means Minnesota has a structurally balanced budget, not a surplus due to accounting gymnastics. Although, we need to remember that in the early 2000s, Minnesota began the practice of factoring inflation only in revenue, not expenditures. Therefore, half of the $1.9 billion surplus is very, very real.

With rainy day funds—all of them–filled, investing surplus dollars in education will not jeopardize the state’s fiscal health today or in the coming years.

 

Two Events Worth Your Consideration

Shared Commitments to School Readiness: Setting Minnesota’s Future Direction

A Forum on Early Childhood Education

With Minnesota on the precipice of historic pre-K policy, this forum promises to provide for an exciting discussion.

Parents and Guardians: Weigh in on the MCA Student Report that you receive

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Pearson are hosting a series of focus groups between May 3 – May 6 at locations around the state. They are seeking feedback on proposed revisions to the Individualized Student Reports (ISRs) parents and guardians are provided with MCA test results each year. Find more information or RSVP to participate, please read here.

 

What is Parents United’s agenda? Our agenda is simple: we don’t speak for parents, but work to provide credible, timely information about education policy and the law-making process so parents can speak for themselves. Truth be told, Parents United is a translator of complex terms and policy implications, as well as a navigator for a legislative process often oblique to the public.