Since the GOP has taken control of the Senate and furthered its majority in the House, caucus leaders including Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and newly-elected Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) have both said in recent interviews that their main priorities this session are fixing health care premium costs, tackling transportation, and possibly doing a tax relief bill that failed to pass last year.
Unfortunately, there has been very few statements or remarks opening week from either majority caucus leaders to expand funding for E12 education.
With the $1.4 billion surplus, Gov. Mark Dayton plans to ask for a modest expansion of the new preschool program, which provides state funding for early education in needy districts without existing options. More money could extend the program to more schools, but republicans have signaled they’d like to with the surplus for transportation.
Dayton also included the 40 percent Ag2School credit in the tax bill. Besides providing tax relief in the state, Ag2School would help address the school facility fallout in the state.
House DFL Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) recently stated her caucus is also committed to addressing higher health care costs, but would also like to see further investments in education and passing a bonding bill that failed last year. Senate DFL Minority Leader Tom Bakk’s main priority is enacting a stable budget without taking money from the state’s rainy day fund in anticipation of a future economic downturn.
E-12 Education has new leadership in the Senate this year following the 2016 election. With the new GOP majority in that body, Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake) will chair the E-12 Education Policy Committee and Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) will chair the E-12 Education Finance Committee. Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) will continue to chair E12 Policy in the House and Rep. Jennifer Loon will retain her gavel as well the Chairwoman for E-12 Finance in the House.
Full House and Senate Education committee information on members and schedules can be found here:
House Education Finance—Chair: Rep. Jennifer Loon
House Education Innovation Policy—Chair: Rep. Sondra Erickson
Senate E-12 Finance—Chair: Sen. Carla Nelson
Senate E-12 Policy—Chair: Sen. Eric Pratt