E-12 Bill Not Addressed in First Week of Special Session

First week filibuster 

Governor Walz called the legislature into special session on Monday, June 14 in order to get 13 budget bills and one tax bill passed and sent to him for signature. The state’s fiscal year ends on June 30th and legislative leaders are committed to avoiding a state government shutdown. However, after a week of legislative activity, they have very little to show for progress. The House GOP is holding up a number of smaller budget bills, literally talking nonstop on the House floor for over 14 hours a day, day after day.

As we get into the second week of this special session, only the Higher Education, Legacy and Agricultural bills have passed the House and are ready for final votes in the Senate. You can track the bills that have been agreed to, not necessarily passed, by the House and Senate majorities and the Governor.

E-12 bill nowhere to be found

The E-12 omnibus bill is notably missing from the list of agreed to bills. The House and Senate E-12 committee chairs are dug in on the offers they announced publicly in early June. For the Senate, they’re still pushing a 3&1.5 formula scenario and no new mandates. For the House, they’re still pushing a 2&2 formula scenario, dollars for expiring 4-year old PreK slots and significant new policy aimed at improving racial equity and educational outcomes for students of color.

The E-12 spending target is $525M for the next two years, and the new spending can grow to $675M in the two years to follow, called the “tails” budget. This totals $1.2B in new E-12 spending over the next 4-years under the leadership agreement from May 17. For comparison, the Senate’s 3&1.5 would consume $1.1B of the available $1.2B. The House’s 2&2 would consumer $960M of the available $1.2B target over the next 4-year.

A number of smaller budget items that MREA invested advocacy time in on this session are missing from the House and Senate offers. One such issue that really needs to get done this year is the Cooperative Facilities proposal, whereby rural schools can access $65/pupil in levy authority for deferred maintenance needs for their cooperative facilities. Funding for rural career and technical education consortia projects and concurrent enrollment credentialling also hang in the balance as the bid war on the formula consumes the lion’s share of the available E-12 budget target.