After taking a spring break last week, the 2013 legislature is about to pick up where they left off. With the policy deadlines behind us, the focus of the session now turns to the major finance committees.
Over the next two weeks, these finance committees will work with the budget targets their leaders gave them to come up with omnibus budget and finance bills. In the education arena, the education finance committees will review the work of the policy committees to determine what, if any, fiscal impacts exist with the recommended policy changes now before them.
In addition to the policy bill review, the education finance committee will continue to review individual spending bills in areas of teacher evaluations (HF 1643), integrations (SF 711) and early childhood scholarships (HF 1058). Beginning a week from now,the education finance committees will roll out their omnibus finance bills.
In the House, Chairman Marquart has a $550 million budget target to work with. In the Senate, Chairman Wiger has a $336 million target to work with. The omnibus E-12 Finance and Policy bills need to be out of House Ways and Means and Senate Finance by April 19. However, MREA expects them to move through those committees sooner than that.
Policy Battle Brewing
While there is always plenty to argue over about money, a major policy battle is brewing. Minnesota’s largest corporations and their political representatives are angling for a fight with the legislature over a proposal to amend the state’s assessment and accountability system for public school students. David Olson of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Charlie Weaver with the Minnesota Business Partnership wrote an OpEd in the Star Tribune challenging the legislature’s current proposal to retire the Math and Reading GRAD in favor of replacing them with a yet to be developed college and career readiness exam.
Assessment and accountability reform is a key component of MREA’s platform and the legislature has responded. Education leaders need to let their legislators know that the reforms proposed in the current education policy bills (HF 1151 and SF 978) are a major improvement over the current system. MREA will send out an action alert on this topic on Wednesday which will include talking points and background information on this subject. Learn more about this issue.