Gov. Tim Walz announced Friday changes to his budget plan in light of the reduced amount of revenue available based on the February forecast. He continues to not back off of his education plan, which would invest $733 million to schools over the next two years.

His proposal provides 3 percent and 2 percent on the Basic Education Formula, holds harmless funding for School Readiness Plus recipients and provides the needed funding for special education to hold each district’s cross-subsidy at this year’s levels.

The House DFL on Monday evening will announce its budget targets. The House Ways & Means Committee will adopt a formal budget resolution that will govern the various spending plans that will come forward between now and April 12. It is expected that their plan will at least match the governor’s level of spending on education and could be be higher than $733 million.

Later this week the Senate GOP majority will announce the framework of its budget plan. The  Senate’s education target is expected to be very low and insufficient for even a 2 percent investment on the formula for each of the two years of the biennium.

Policy Agendas

In addition to the looming budget battle at the State Capitol, there are numerous policy agendas that each body wants to advance this session.

View an updated side-by-side of proposals on key E-12 issues.

Among the  key policy agendas currently at play in the House DFL is a paid family sick leave plan that would impact schools.

While the payroll cost for schools is still unclear, a 0.31% payroll deduction is anticipated to fund the paid family and sick leave pool.

The House this week will advance HF 5 and the Senate GOP majority will wait to see what they send over. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka indicated a willingness to negotiate a deal on this topic.

The House DFL has a host of other education policy provisions moving forward that can be found here (link to MREA side-by-side). The Senate GOP will likely advance fewer education policy provisions, but one we have concerns with is a requirement that MDE develop and implement a Star Rating system for schools.

The Senate GOP will spur another education policy fight through their tax bill that will include “opportunity scholarships.” These scholarships would allow tax breaks for donations that fund private schools vouchers. The public school lobby, MREA included, has long opposed this measure as a backdoor voucher plan.

What’s Next?

The next three weeks will see a flurry of legislative activity as lawmakers approach the annual break between Passover and Easter. The work over the next three weeks will set up the end of session negotiations between the Governor, Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader.

Right now, as expected in a divided government, we’re a long way off from finding common ground. Once they return on April 23, they will have a month to finish their work.

View an updated side-by-side of proposals on key E-12 issues.