Schools for Equity in Education

– Legislative Update

I get a number of updates from legislators and this week one of them struck me as a little bit humorous. The legislator’s headline read “Session at the Halfway Point.” That may be accurate in terms of time if the legislative session runs all the way to the constitutionally-mandated day of adjournment on May 20, but so much work has already been completed in the policy committees as their respective omnibus bills begin to hit the House and Senate floors that it seems like we are at least at the three-quarters point in the process.

The Senate moved first on the omnibus education policy bill, moving the bill off the floor and sending it to the House last Tuesday on a vote of 35-31. The vote was nearly a party-line vote, but one Republican joined the DFL in passing the bill.  Fourteen amendments were offered with six being passed. The most substantive amendment that went on the bill was offered by Senator Jim Abeler (R-Anoka). The amendment would allow districts to use their student support personnel aid to preserve current student support personnel positions as well as adding to the student support complement of school psychologists, school counselors, school social workers, school nurses, and chemical dependency counselors. It will be interesting to see if this language survives both the House floor and the conference committee.

The Senate Education Finance Committee heard Senator Heather Gustafson’s SF 4184 last Thursday. This bill is the Senate companion to HF 4117 (Norris) that was heard in the House Education Finance Committee earlier this session. The bill increases Local Option Revenue by $196 per pupil and also provides school districts with the ability to add unreimbursed unemployment compensation and paid family medical leave costs to their local option revenue amount. The bill also increases the equalizing factors for Local Option Revenue and the operating revenue. Although the proposed increases in those equalizing factors is not spelled out, it is imperative that they be raised so that the burden for the increase in the Local Option Revenue will not fall too heavily on taxpayers in low property wealth school districts.

Seeing this was probably my last time to testify on the equalization issue, I took the opportunity and pointed out how the property tax burden for education has increased approximately $2.8 Billion (that’s Billion with a “B”) since the general education levy was eliminated for taxes payable in 2002. While all of the increase is not directly tied to the erosion in the equalizing factors for the various school levies, erosion has certainly played a role. I also stated emphatically that responsibility for improving equalization cannot fall solely on the education finance committees in the House and Senate. It is imperative that the tax committees also address the growing portion of total state property taxes—which will likely become the largest portion of all the local governmental units (schools, cities, counties)—moving forward. The executive branch also has to weigh in and hopefully the Governor’s budget and tax proposals in 2025 contain improvements to the equalizing factors.

Another aspect of the bill that needs to be discussed is the addition of unemployment compensation and paid family and medical leave to Local Option Revenue. Ideally, state revenue would be appropriated to cover the costs of these recently-mandated programs, much like the Governor proposed in his 2023 budget.

This week will be a short one at the Legislature, as there will be a mid-week break to observe the end of Ramadan. I will be covering the committee hearings and will report pertinent proceedings on the blog. Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions and comments at or 612-220-7459.


Receive weekly updates during the legislative session.

SEE Side-by-Side Comparison

See the education funding priorities of the Governor, House, and Senate.

Education Bill Summary

An up-to-date look at education bills currently under consideration.

Thank you!

Please support these businesses who boost our efforts to ensure fair and equitable school funding for all Minnesota children.