The GOP legislative majorities are moving quickly to fill in the details of the budget plans they released a week ago. Arguing that education spending is already going up $844 million (about 5 percent) from the current biennium, both the House and Senate are looking at less than half the proposed increase that Governor Dayton is fighting for.
Here’s a look at the numbers and plans:
The House plan adds $258 million to the FY 18-19 education budget. If you see the figure $1.1 billion in new money, that’s the House adding the current biennial growth of $844 million in education to their new $258 million in funding.
The Senate plan calls for the addition of $300 million over the forecasted so you may see the Senate talk about a $1.14 billion increase in education spending in their plan.
The Governor wants to add $709 million over the forecast figure, resulting in a comparable increase of $1.55 billion.
Inside the Plans
View side-by-side comparison of the latest plans. (Updated following the Senate’s proposal release on March 27.)
The Governor’s plan addresses potential increased school district costs for Minnesota teacher retirement through TRA and greatly expands the Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) program. This is in addition to putting 2&2 on the formula and another $40 million toward closing the special education cross-subsidy.
The House plan delinks compensatory revenue from the formula in addition to repealing Voluntary Pre-K and Pathway II funds. The plan puts 1.5 percent and 1.5 percent on the delinked formula and adds $24.6 million to Pathway I early learning scholarships. There doesn’t appear to be any help for TRA or special education in the House plan. MREA testified against delinking compensatory revenue from the formula and repealing VPK.
The House bill includes initiatives that were part of the Teacher Shortage Act. This includes language expanding the Northwest Partnership to a State Partnership to help teacher’s attain content graduate credits for concurrent enrollment classes. While the bill lacks funding to make the partnership happen, the bill’s language serves as a placeholder should the overall spending target increase.
The Senate Education Finance bill will be public Monday afternoon. We expect to see 1.5 percent and 1.5 percent on the formula. Whether or not the Senate picks a direct fight with the Governor on VPK is unclear. The Governor’s reaction this week to the House’s move to repeal VPK may have the Senate thinking twice about that approach.
“It looks like the House Republicans intend to use pre-kindergarten funding as a bargaining chip in the upcoming budget negotiations,” Gov. Dayton said. “It is appalling that the best interests of Minnesota four year-olds are being used as a political bargaining chip by House Republicans.”
Round one of the budget debate is underway. The GOP wants to stake their budget claim first and may push forward with an education bill they know will be vetoed. That’s the design of the session and our relatively early bill deadlines. Hopefully it doesn’t take all June – or all summer – to get an education bill signed into law.