With the second bill deadline behind them, Minnesota legislators left St. Paul on Friday for their traditional spring break. This is a time for legislators to get back to their districts and get a reality check on what they’ve been working on. We hope that school leaders will take some time to reach out to their legislators to talk about some of the important issues they will grapple with as we head toward the end of this session (May 18).
The biggest task for the rest of session is for legislative leaders to negotiate a budget deal. Here’s what we have on the budget table as of last Friday:
The Governor wants to spend $694 million on E-12 programs, half of which would go toward expanding four year old preschool programs. He’s proposing 1&1 on the basic formula and funding for several initiatives including money to expand educational supports for American Indian students.
The House GOP plan by contrast would spend a paltry $157 million on E-12 programs. This isn’t even enough to put 1&1 on the formula, which costs $173 million. We wouldn’t be surprised if the House GOP E-12 plan eliminates the Achievement & Integration program and places those dollars into the basic formula or to expand early learning scholarships. The House GOP budget plan calls for $2.2 billion in tax cuts. Their plan would spend $15 on tax cuts for every $1 spent on education.
The Senate DFL target for E-12 funding is $350 million. If they spent every penny on the formula, they could do 2&2. More likely though is that they will divvy this up between formula, early learning and other projects. Chair Wiger has been holding out hope to do something on deferred maintenance for rural districts, but this is in doubt given his spending target.
What Does 1&1 Mean?
The overall direction of E-12 funding this year is shaping up to look more like 1&1 than 2&2, let alone people’s hopes for 3&3. Legislators need to hear from school leaders about what 1&1 means for their budgets. Does it mean dollar amount cuts? Does it mean staff layoffs?
The legislature appears comfortable heading toward 1&1 and if this puts you in an uncomfortable position then now is the time to raise the alarm bells.
MREA is putting together a survey that we would like you to respond to in April so that we can better understand what 1&1 means in order to help advocate for your budgets and your children’s education.