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School Finance Reform
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The Minnesota Miracle

The Minnesota Miracle of 1971 resulted from a ten-year effort to restructure Minnesota's fiscal policy. Major contributors to the effort were Paul Gilje, then research director of the Citizens League; Representative Charles R. Weaver of Anoka; the Metropolitan Council; the 1967-1971 Republican legislatures; and state Senator Wendell Anderson, the 1970 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, elected governor, who campaigned on a pledge to make sweeping changes in the financing of schools and of local governments.

Rising public discontent with soaring property taxes created the ferment for needed reform of long-established policies: local governments and school districts were financed solely through autonomously levied property taxes; municipalities were forced to compete for commercial-industrial development to boost their tax base; and disparities in the quality of education between property-tax-rich and property-tax-poor districts were egregious. Reform laws enacted to resolve those issues, taken together, came to be known as the Minnesota Miracle of 1971. The Minnesota Miracle survived, relatively unchanged, for more than 30 years until 2002, when the property tax structure was again revised by legislative action.  [Source:  Minnesota History Center, The Minnesota Miracle]

The positive impact that the Minnesota Miracle made to education funding has eroded over time.  The current education funding system in Minnesota is once again broken. Inadequate state funding resulting in the heavy reliance on voter-approved operating referendum has created an education system of "haves" and "have-nots" based merely on a child's zip code. The state needs to develop and implement a standards-based funding formula that is rationally-linked to student achievement and need.  Comprehensive funding reform must provide the resources Minnesota schools need to ensure that ALL children can meet federal and state academic standards and reach their full potential.

Below is a look at several attempts of compreshesive funding reform.

2012 Governor's Education Finance Working Group

Education Finance Working Group Recommendations and Report
November 2012
The revised recommendations from the reconvened Governor's Education Finance Working Group.

Data runs for each district:
Excel spreadsheet - includes revenue and property tax runs
Revenue pdf document -  Revenue only
Property tax pdf document - Property tax changes only 

In the summer of 2012, the Working Group reconvened.  The group put forth revised recommendations intended to be the basis for the Governor's school finance reform proposal for the 2013 Legislative Session.  Unfortunately, the Governor only advanced minor provisions from the proposal, mostly technical accounting changes, which were adopted into law.

2011 Governor's Education Finance Working Group


Funding Education for the Future - Executive Summary 6Mb (5/26/2011)

2011 Report from the Education Finance Working Group to Governor Dayton


Funding Education for the Future 721Kb (5/26/2011)
2011 Report from the Education Finance Working Group to Governor Dayton

SEE's Critique of Funding for the Future by Brad Lundell

Minnesota Department of Education Working Group Page

Working Group Members

An Education Finance Working Group was formed and charged with developing recommendations for school finance reform. In addition to school and civic leaders, citizens and parents, the working group also includes sitting legislative leadership.

Established as part of Governor Dayton’s Seven Point Plan to establish better school funding, the goal of the reform proposal crafted by the working group is to:

  • Improve the adequacy, equity, and stability of pre K-12 education funding
  • Simplify education funding
  • Preserve local control
  • Close the achievement gap
  • Promote high achievement for all students
  • Direct resources closest to students, teachers and the classroom


    The New Minnesota Miracle

    The New Minnesota Miracle Bill is legislation that was introduced in the House in 2008, 2009 and 2010.  The bill would provide comprehensive funding reform based on the PS Minnesota framework. Although the bill was not perfect, it dwould make a significant first step towards providing the resources Minnesota schools need. 

    Unfortunately, the timing of the New Minnesota Miracle coincided with the recession.  The investment called for in the Miracle, and needed in schools, is significant.  The Minnesota Miracle stalled due to lack of revenue.

    Note:  Both HF4178(2009) and HF2(2010) refer to the Minnesota Miracle Bill.  


    PS Minnesota

    Tying Education Funding to Student Success
    Parents United Summit
    February, 2007

    A Framework for a New Minnesota Education Funding Formula
    PS Minnesota
    November 2006 (pdf, 5 pages)

    APA Executive Summary
    Estimating the Cost of an Adequate Education in Minnesota
    Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, Inc.
    November 28, 2006 (pdf, 4 pages)

    APA Phase 2 Adequacy Report
    Estimating the Cost of an Adequate Education in Minnesota
    Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, Inc.
    November 2006 (pdf, 43 pages)

    Investing in the Future
    Seeking a Fair, Understandable and Accountable 21st Century Education Finance System for Minnesota
    Governor's School Funding Task Force
    July 2004 (pdf, 67 pages)

    PS Minnesota, an unprecedented coalition of education organizations and parent groups, worked with nationally-recognized education funding expert, Augenblick, Palaich, and Associates (APA), to develop the framework for a new school funding formula.