Major Bills to Be Unveiled This Week Ahead of Legislative Break
Legislature Will Recess April 9-18
Third, and last, committee deadline is this Friday, April 8. By that date, committees must act favorably on major appropriations and finance bills. While a few budget committees in the House and Senate have released their respective omnibus bills, the major bills, like Education Finance, Taxes, Health & Human Services, will be unveiled this week. After their work completes on Friday, the legislature will recess until Tuesday, April 19 for their traditional Passover/Easter spring break. When they return, they’ll have five weeks to conclude work on any legislative packages where they can agree. Legislative activity must cease at midnight on Sunday, May 22.
House Education Considers Increasing Teacher Prep Time
House Education Finance reviewed HF3926, a bill that would increase the required teacher preparation time from five minutes for every 25 minutes of instructional time, to five minutes for every 17 minutes of instructional time. Additionally, the prep time blocks must be uninterrupted. Teacher prep time is extremely valuable, however increasing the amount of required prep time is difficult to manage as districts struggle with budgets and staff shortages. MREA’s preference is that decisions around scheduling and prep time should be handled through local bargaining agreements. While this bill will likely be included in the House Education omnibus bill, it faces an uphill battle to earn support in the Senate, where the GOP majority will stall most of the House education policy initiatives as we head toward the end of session.
Senate Education Dives into MDE’s BOLD Literacy Proposal
The Senate Education Committee hosted Commissioner Mueller and others from MDE to hear the administration’s BOLD Literacy proposal. Chair Chamberlain stated that there were some good things in the plan that were “workable.” MDE’s proposal does include some funding for LETRS training, a favorite of Chair Chamberlain. At the end of MDE’s presentation, Chair Chamberlain noted that if the administration wanted to require more reporting or paperwork of schools, he would work to offset any additional burdens by relieving pressure elsewhere, most likely in scaling back World’s Best Workforce reporting. We may get a better understanding of what he intends as his omnibus bill rolls through this week.
This week in Education Committees
Senate Education – Omnibus and MDE Federal Summer Food Service Programs
On Monday, the Senate Education committee will hear from the MDE on the controversy surrounding excessive Summer Food Service Payments made to certain community organizations. These payments were flagged for potential fraud.
Later Monday evening the committee will look at a draft omnibus bill that currently includes $30 million in one-time funding for LETRS training and $700,000 to the Regional Centers of Excellence for 1 FTE staff at each RCE to support this effort. On Wednesday, the committee will process any amendments to the bill and send it to the full Senate Finance committee.
House Education Finance
The House Education Finance committee will unveil their omnibus education spending bill on Monday. It will be a night and day comparison to what the Senate is offering, in both policy and revenue to schools. The Governor proposed $785 million in new education funding for the next school year, growing to a $1.7 billion increase in the tails budget for fiscal years 24-25. We expect the House to come close to matching that amount and perhaps going above these amounts. We’ll know more Monday morning as the committee meets at 8:30 to walk through the proposal.