February Forecast Day

The February budget forecast will be released later today. Last December’s forecast predicted a $17.6 billion surplus for the close of the current biennium and into the next two fiscal years. Most are assuming we’ll see the $17.6 billion figure grow as current year tax receipts continue to come in above previously forecast levels. The big question is: what does the on-going budget picture look like for not just the next two years, but the two years beyond that? Most of the major education funding and mandate proposals have substantial on-going costs. The Governor could offer to change items to his budget plan in the wake of today’s forecast news. The legislature will base their budget plans on the February forecast data set. We’re hearing about ‘joint budget targets’ between the House and Senate in the next few weeks.

March Madness

Capitol insiders refer to ‘March Madness’ as three committee deadlines that are set for this month. Not unlike dreaded ‘finals’ weeks, committee deadlines are where individual bills need to clear committee votes to stay alive for the remainder of the session.

The first bill deadline is Friday, March 10, the second is Friday, March 24, and the third is Tuesday, April 4.

At 5 p.m. on April 4, the legislature will take a spring break that corresponds with Passover/Easter. They return to work on Tuesday, April 11, to begin the final stages of the legislative session, which must end on May 22.

For education, this session will likely produce the most significant budget increase the public school system has seen in generations. The DFL political trifecta appears determined to invest heavily in school funding formulas and student supports.

There is a staff or labor heavy emphasis on the education bills moving forward, including but not limited to:

  • “paid family & medical leave”
  • “earned safe and sick time”
  • raising paraprofessional pay to $25 per hour
  • providing health insurance for all full-time and part-time (20+ hours/week) at no less than 83% paid for single and 72% paid for family coverage and no more than 50% of total out-of-pocket cost to employees.

A proposal by TRA to create a “60/30” retirement plan (retire at 60 with 30 years of experience) would increase the employer reimbursement to TRA by 2.6% on payroll and 0.87% for the employee.

Beyond staff compensation, there is an emphasis on growing the number of teachers of color in Minnesota school districts. Advocates for more teachers of color noted that Minnesota needs 20,000 teachers of color to match up with the student body ratio, and there are currently only 3,000 such teachers.

Bills to fund more mental health supports for kids, more English language support and literacy training for teachers are all on the move. Bills adding new course requirements and restricting discipline procedures continue to advance as well.

This week’s committee agendas are jam packed as they make up for lost hearings last week due to the winter storms.

This week in Education Committees

Senate Education Finance

Senate Education Finance will discuss the following bills:

  • SF1919 (Kunesh) – increase in aid to regional library systems
  • SF1196 (Seeberger) – MN Center for the Book appropriation
  • SF960 (Gustafson) – MN Children’s Museum appropriation
  • SF1751 (Putnam) – children’s museums and education center appropriations
  • SF725 (Nelson) – Children’s Museum of Rochester grant
  • SF448 (Gustafson) – 5&5 linked bill (Senate companion to HF439)
  • SF1276 (Maye Quade) – early learning scholarship appropriation
  • SF615 (Kunesh) – voluntary pre-K and school readiness plus permanent expansion
  • SF1553 (Lucero) – American Indian education aid carry forward
  • SF1270 (Cwodzinski) – Reach Out and Read MN grant
  • SF865 (Westlin) – MCEE ongoing grants
  • SF1719 (Putnam) – education partnership program modification
  • SF20 (Kunesh) – full-service community schools appropriation

Senate Education Policy

Senate Education Policy will discuss the following bills:

  • SF1024 (Maye Quade) – charter school admission requirements
  • SF366 (Boldon) – prohibition on malicious and sadistic conduct
  • SF1047 (Mohamed) – age expansion to student admission provisions
  • SF1632 (Hauschild) – public labor relations modification
  • SF617 (Kunesh) – school trust lands duties and powers modification
  • SF1911 (Kunesh) – school library aid
  • SF901 (Cwodzinski) – personal finance class requirement
  • SF242 (Draheim) – online personal finance class requirement
  • SF1905 (Kunesh) – American Indian education for all students
  • SF1777 (Oumou Verbeten) – pilot program for teacher residency grant
  • SF1641 (Cwodzinski) – changes to teacher licensure
  • SF1477 (Kunesh) – tiered licensure modifications
  • SF1473 (Gustafson) – barriers removed to teacher licensure

House Education Policy

House Education Policy will discuss the following bills:

  • HF651 (Hassan) – personal finance class requirement
  • HF358 (Urdahl) – social studies requirements modified, government and citizenship course requirement added
  • HF1502 (Sencer-Mura) – ethnic studies class requirement
  • HF759 (Lee) – computer science education advancement provided
  • HF1691 (Jordan) – public labor relations modified
  • HF1773 (Clardy) – ELL indexed to basic ed revenue
  • HF1313 (Pryor) – PELSB obsolete language clean up
  • HF1348 (Tabke) – employee health insurance, PD for paras
  • HF1589 (Bennett) – SPED teacher pipeline program
  • HF59 (Richardson) – charter school admission requirement modifications
  • HF980 (Newton) – school trust lands duties and powers modification
  • HF995 (Berg) – age expansion to student admission provisions
  • HF345 (Hussein) – educational outcome and accountability improvement pilot program
  • HF827 (Keeler) – teacher prep time modifications
  • HF562 (Edelson) – due process SPED aid for districts
  • HF629 (Edelson) – requirement to use approved literacy curriculum
  • HF1187 (Gillman) – postsecondary institution required to notify school of student withdrawal

House Education Finance

House Education Finance will discuss the following bills:

  • HF1917 (Rehm) – increase in aid to regional library systems
  • HF1725 (Sencer-Mura) – MN Center for the Book appropriation
  • HF801 (Agbaje) – Girls in Action grant funding
  • HF932 (Clardy) – MN Council on Economic Education grants
  • HF990 (Lee, F.) – after-school community learning funding
  • HF1407 (Frazier) – STEM activities grant funding
  • HF362 (Moller) – comprehensive school mental health services position at MDE
  • HF58 (Richardson) – prohibition on dismissal of K-3 students
  • HF347 (Howard) – lead testing requirements in schools
  • HF933 (Rehm) – Eastern Carver County lease levy authorized
  • HF1102 (Clardy) – elementary counseling services for nonpublic pupils included in nonpublic pupil aid
  • HF1547 (Feist) – compensatory revenue modification
  • HF1360 (Clardy) – safe schools revenue increase
  • HF1970 (Pursell) – growth factor modification for ABE aid
  • HF1045 (Hill) – community ed for adults with disabilities
  • HF683 (Edelson) – community ed revenue program funding increase