Committee after Committee after Committee . . . The education-related committees are all scheduled to meet on Wedensdays and all four did today with a short break at halftime to accommodate a House floor session. The Senate Education Finance Committee heard Senator Mary Kunesh’s SF 8, a bill that provides one-time funding for transportation, EL, and special education. The bill spends $268 million on these three funding categories, which would all be welcome. There’s an interesting debate going on as to whether the Legislature should pass one or two education bills, the first with one-time money and the second with the base funding for the coming biennium. It remains to be seen which approach is taken, but SF 8 (and other bills) do show some areas that could benefit from one-time funding without adding to long-term fiscal commitments.
The House Education Finance Committee covered and held over two bills. The first, HF 44, is Representative Feist’s bill that would require school districts to provide access to menstrual products, and HF 203, Representative Berg’s bill to provide funding to the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs (MAAP) for the MAAP Stars program. MAAP stars is an excellent program and back in the 1990s when I was doing contract lobbying work, MAAP was one of my clients and I have a lot of respect for the staff and students in Area Learning Centers and alternative high schools throughout the state. Truly dedicated staff and students that have taken control of their education populate these programs.
The Senate Education Policy Committee met in the early afternoon and heard three bills: SF 13 (Champion) that would establish Juneteenth as a state holiday, SF 50 (Cwodzinski) the companion to Representative Feist’s HF 44 that requires school districts to provide access to menstrual products, and SF 123 (Gustafson), the companion to Representative Jordan’s HF 5 that provides free meals for all students. The effort toward free meals has a lot of momentum and was mentioned in the Governor’s proposed initiatives released on Tuesday.
The day ended with the House Education Policy Committee hearing Representative Richardson’s HF 38 that would tighten up the ability of school districts to suspend students in kindergarten through third grade. That was followed by a discussion of HF 320, Representative Hassan’s bill that would strengthen the Teachers of Color Act.
Speaking of the Governor’s Proposed Education Package. $12 billion expended on a variety of programs over four years is quite a commitment and the Governor’s efforts include a number of programs aimed at helping families in a variety of spheres in addition to providing revenue for schools. It’s a comprehensive approach that provides 4% and 2% increases in the general education basic formula in the coming biennium and then ties the basic formula to inflation. It also tackles the EL and special education cross-subsidies. There are a number of other education initiatives including the aforementioned provision of free meals to all public school students and money for Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). We will have the details that accompany the proposed appropriation amounts when the Governor releases his budget next Tuesday.
Here is a link to the document that accompanied the Governor’s press conference: Making Minnesota the Best State for Kids