Several Steps Closer.
The omnibus education funding and policy bill has been moving briskly through the process after the agreement was announced last week. HF 2/SF 23 was heard in the House Ways and Means Committee last Wednesday and the House Education Finance Committee held an informational hearing on the agreement on Friday morning. The full House passed the bill by an overwhelming vote of 105-20 on Saturday after several hours of debate which featured the rejection of a number of amendments. The amendment that produced the most rhetoric was offered by Representative Glenn Gruenhagen that would have created opportunity scholarships (basically vouchers) for students in the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts. Most of the amendments that went to a roll call were defeated on straight party-line votes. I was a bit surprised by the margin of final passage, but it is important to remember that a lot of the resistance to the bill as it left the House during the regular session revolved around what the minority caucus labelled a plethora of mandates on local school districts. Those mandates were almost completely eliminated and the vast majority of the new money for school districts will go out on the general education basic formula, which really removed most objections.
The Senate heard the companion file–SF 23–last Thursday and will take up the bill on the Senate floor tomorrow (Monday). I surmise that the bill will pass with ease and will head to the Governor shortly thereafter for his signature. With that, the eventful legislative season will have come to and end.
I will provide a more in-depth update at some point after the dust finally settles.