Last Weekend Ends With No Signs of a Budget Deal

As of Sunday afternoon there were no signs of a global budget deal. Legislative leaders went into this last weekend of session seeming resigned to a special session to get a new two-year budget deal in place. The legislature is in until midnight today, and it’s possible the various leadership camps will reach a deal, but most are starting to look ahead to mid-June. Assuming Governor Walz re-issues peacetime emergency powers for another 30 days when they expire mid-June, the legislature is automatically called back into special session.

Minnesota will receive $2.8M in Federal America Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. The U.S. Treasury rules for how the funds can be used are just sinking in. The Senate GOP would like to have a say in how the funds are spent, but once session adjourns, they lose their ability to officially weigh in.

Education Conference Committee

Late last week the House and Senate education conferees were trading offers on various policy items. The House DFL has been pushing hard for a prohibition on K-3 suspensions. If not an outright prohibition on suspension, they are driving for a specific and narrow definition creating a high bar for the behaviors that can result in a suspension. The Senate has a more simple version, stating that a K-3 student “may only be dismissed in​ circumstances where the child poses a safety threat to the child or others.”

Another issue that was discussed over the weekend was a distance learning extension for one year. Education stakeholders are hung up on a 30-minute per day prep time mandate as the legislature tries to find a compromise on another year of distance learning.