The House and Senate released budget targets last week for all of their finance committees. In the House, the Education Finance committee received the largest target of any committee in the legislature. The House DFL leadership decided to give Chairman Paul Marquart $550 million to spend.
Inside Both Plans
By comparison, the Senate gave Chairman Chuck Wiger $336 million to spend on education programs and another $150 million to use to buy down school levies. Property tax relief is a stated priority of the Senate DFL and it’s nice to see them put a portion of that relief into the education budget. The Governor’s budget plan calls for $344 million for education programs.
The House DFL plan also calls for a one-time, upper income tax surcharge to generate $854 million needed to repay the remaining school aid, school property tax recognition and other small budget shifts (non-education areas) that were used to balance the state budget through the great recession.
Neither the Senate or Governor are focusing resources on repaying shifts at this point. The House DFL plan is a reflection of its campaign promises to balance the budget, repay schools and invest in education.
All Day Kindergarten
One priority seems to be emerging from the House and Senate and that’s paying for all day, every day kindergarten. The question is, when will they start funding ADK; in the next fiscal year (2014) or in FY 2015? SF 2 is the bill to keep an eye on for this and it would start ADK in FY 2015 at a price tag of almost $140 million.
To pay for ADK in both years of the next biennium would consume almost all of the Senate entire education target and about half of the House education target. Aside from the timing of implementing ADK, the next big budget priority battle will be over putting money on the formula or into special education.