The GOP legislative majorities are advancing an education spending plan that in their words will increase education funding by $1.1 billion. It’s a misleading attempt to make their proposal look stronger than it is.

MREA Director of Legislative Affairs Sam Walseth shares why:

  • What’s really driving the growth?
    The $1.1 billion figure is a FY 16-17 to FY 18-19 biennium to biennium comparison that includes $840 million in forecasted growth, largely due to an increase number of total students across the state. The forecasted growth also includes new special education funding as there’s an automatic inflator built into the special education formula and an increase in equalization funds associated with the phase in of the Long-Term Facilities Maintenance (LTFM) program.

That leaves only $270 million (House) and $300 million (Senate) of the roughly $1.1 billion figure proposals outlined in the legislature’s current E-12 omnibus finance bills.

  • How much are we really growing?
    The $1.1 billion figure has been cited as 6.5 percent growth over the four-year period. This translates to only 1.6 percent in annual growth, barely enough to cover CPI inflation over this period. CPI is currently forecasted to increase about 2 percent for the foreseeable future, according to the state’s February budget forecast.The Senate’s plan puts 1.5% & 1.5% on the formula. The House plan puts 1.25% & 1.25% on the formula, but delinks compensatory revenue and repeals Voluntary Pre-K. For many schools, the House’s new formula money will still simply backfill lost compensatory and VPK funds.

Using the same accounting method as the legislature, Governor Dayton by contrast has a $1.5 billion budget plan for E-12 education over the next two years. His plan would:

  • Improve the formula by 2% &2%
  • Fund TRA contributions needed for solvency
  • Advance VPK funding to districts that have shown an interest in it
  • Reduce the special education cross-subsidy

See Beyond the Number

As the legislature concludes “round 1” of the budget process, we encourage you to keep these figures in mind. While $1.1 billion sounds like a lot of money, it has less buying power than advertised over the state’s current $17-18 billion annual education program.

When can you expect a plan? Learn more.