Schools for Equity in Education

– Legislative Update

It was a bit of an anticlimactic week in the discussion of education funding and policy last week at the Legislature.  There was a bit of a rush getting the last fleet of bills onto the legislative sea in hopes of them reaching port in the omnibus funding and policy bills being assembled.  With the deadline for the omnibus bills to be in the House Ways and Means Committee or the Senate Finance Committee by Tuesday, April 4, it is expected that the content of all of the omnibus funding bills will be posted by today (March 27) on the corresponding committee webpages.  That means that the committees spent much of the past weekend putting together their omnibus bills.

The week’s big news is that the global budget targets have been reached and the omnibus bills coming forward will all have to fit within the confines of that agreement.  In all my years of being around the legislative process, this is the earliest that the global agreement on spending and taxes has been reached and it may be a signal that the remainder of the session could run relatively smoothly.  In previous sessions, each body of the Legislature would set its budget and tax targets as they began deliberations on their omnibus bills and those targets would be reconciled with the Governor’s budget and tax recommendations during the conference committee process.  With the overall budget framework constructed, both the House and Senate will head into the process of constructing their omnibus bills knowing the limit of how much they spend they can approve for this biennium and how much can be built into the base for the next biennium.

The overall K-12 budget target adheres to the amount laid out by the Governor in the budget recommendations he released in late January.  Those recommendations laid out a $2.5 billion commitment for a variety of formula improvements and other programs.  That amount included the free breakfast and lunch program for all Minnesota students and that bill was passed separately and signed by the Governor.  That leaves approximately $2.2 billion left for both ongoing and one-time spending.

The Governor’s budget recommendations called for a 4% increase in the general education basic formula for the 2022-2023 school year and a 2% increase in the 2023-2024 school year with future increases in the formula tied to inflation.  The Governor also called for a 50% reduction in the special education cross-subsidy on an ongoing basis.  The combined budget commitment of these two components is approximately $1.5 billion.  The Governor also called for $50 million over two years and included in the base for hiring additional student support personnel (school social workers, school psychologists, guidance counselors, school nurses, and chemical dependency counselors), making funding for the voluntary pre-kindergarten programs permanent and expanding the program, and additional funding for several initiatives including Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS).

How the Legislature works within the confines of the agreed-upon budget framework will be interesting and while we likely will not see the acrimony that pervaded in the years of divided government, neither will this likely be a seamless process.  While the House and Senate will likely want to address many of the priorities laid out by the Governor, how they balance the available revenue with their priorities remains to be seen.  There will likely be disagreements and, as is the case every session, there won’t be enough budget space to accommodate everyone’s wish list.

Stay tuned into the blog (and sorry about the website difficulties that prevented me from posting much of last week) for the up-to-date posting of the omnibus bills and my analysis of the bills.  As I have been saying all session, school districts will be getting a considerable influx of resources this year, but that will have to be balanced with several new responsibilities (read: mandates) that will also be passed.  We will certainly know more in the next few days and always provide me with your viewpoints on the proposed legislation.


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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.

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