Minnesota legislators returned from break last week and immediately went to work setting up conference committees for their budget and tax bills. The E-12 conference committee met twice to conduct perfunctory work, including walking through the extensive side-bv-side of the House and Senate education bills. See the proposals and their impacts at a glance.

View side-by-side of key E-12 issues for Greater Minnesota schools.

The Committee heard testimony by Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius who reiterated the administration’s many concerns with the low level of funding for E-12 programs and specifically the lack of support for Voluntary Pre-K in the legislature’s proposals.

Four weeks from today the session must end according to the state constitution. While there’s plenty of time to negotiate a deal, the differences on issues facing the Governor and the GOP legislative majorities are stark.

There’s an inverse relationship between tax cuts and spending increases between the two sides. The legislature’s policy initiatives in many areas (not so much in E-12) are controversial. The legislature’s opposition to Voluntary Pre-K is sure to be a lingering battle between now and whenever the work is finished.

Reaching a Plan

The conference committees will likely continue some public work next week and they’ve set a goal for themselves to have budget targets by the end of the week. It’s unclear how serious the effort is to reach budget targets and whether or not the Governor will agree to them at this point.

The Governor has insisted that the GOP majorities reach a consensus on their budget approach first before he and his commissioners fully engage in the conference committee process. These are the dog days of session when everyone is asking what the plan is and the truth is they’re developing it on the fly each day.