The current budget forecast shows a projected deficit of $1.1 billion for the next two fiscal years. The February forecast is due on the Feb. 28 and recent legislative action should improve the bottom line for the next two years by a slight amount.
The legislature took quick action on adopting a federal health care reform option to enroll poor Minnesotans into Medicaid. The bill is on the Governor’s desk and he will sign it in short order. The measure is estimated to save Minnesota $130 million in the next biennium, which will reduce some of the projected spending and could help reduce the projected deficit by that amount.
This still leaves a sizable deficit to contend with and the DFL majorities will continue to explore the revenue options in the Governor’s tax plan (SF 552). It’s important for school officials and staff to contact their legislators about the need for additional state revenue if schools are to see new state aid. The legislature has to set budget targets before they leave for spring break on Friday, March 22. We are hearing they intend to set targets much sooner than that.
The Governor’s K-12 target is $302 million, which translates into a 1% increase in the first fiscal year of the biennium. If schools are to receive more than this then legislators need to hear from school officials and staff soon.
At a minimum, legislators need to understand what this revenue target means for their budgets. Now is the time to be contacting your legislators about the Governor’s budget plan as both the House and Senate Education Finance committees are reviewing his plan (HF 630).
Requesting funding levels sufficient to cover the cost of inflation each year is necessary to provide students adequate and equitable funding. To do this, the legislature would need to add a minimum of $200 million to the K-12 target or $500 million for the next biennium.
Most of this increase is to add $90 million to the Governor’s proposed 2014 formula increase so the total 2014 increase in educational funding is above the expected rate of inflation (1.74% CPI). MREA created talking points on the K-12 budget target for you to use with legislators. View the talking points.