Monday, January 22, 2007

Get Your Red Hot Budget Here! It's that time of the biennium when heads go faint and hearts go all a flutter as the Governor's budget for the next two years is released.

There's a ton of information out there, related to both the education portion of the budget and the budget as a whole. These two links provide most of the pertinent information, but more will certainly be coming.

Education Budget:

State Budget:

In other SEE-related news, I attended the Willmar school board meeting this evening and gave a presentation regarding our efforts in PS Minnesota. Even though things are heating up at the Legislature, I still have some time to get away in the evening, so don't hesitate to call and try to bring me to your district if you want.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Governor finished his State of the State Address about an hour ago and there is a lot in it regarding education. While I haven't seen the details, he did mention the following elements:
  • A 2% increase in the basic formula for all school districts.
  • A possibility that school districts could earn up to 2% more on the basic formula if they meet performance criteria.
  • $75 million for high school restructuring.
  • Greater investment in technology.
I will provide more details after I see a copy of the speech.

Greg Vandal, Scott Croonquist, Sam Walseth, Jim Grathwol, and I finished two days (3 hours) of testimony on PS Minnesota in the Senate E-12 Funding Division this morning. The members of the division asked a number of probing questions, but I believe that there is interest in the proposal. We will continue to talk with legislative leadership regarding PS Minnesota and I believe that it will be discussed throughout the session. Hopefully, this discussion will produce the level of investment necessary to go further down the road of reform and the quest for adequate funding.

Always feel free to leave comments on the page. This could be a great place to pose questions and elicit discussion on the various proposals coming forward this session.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Monday, Monday. It was a very busy Monday for yours truly; a day that included a couple of visits to SEE legislators, a little bit of legislative testimony, and visits to two SEE districts.

I had the opportunity to testify in front of the Senate Education Committeee in favor of SF 13, Senator Chuck Wiger's (DFL-North St. Paul) bill memorializing Congress to make good on its unmet commitment of providing 40% of the funding for special education programs. Whether or not this bill is successful in moving Congress toward that goal remains in question, but it is important that bills like this are passed to keep applying pressure toward that end.

St. Cloud school board member Jerry von Korff also testified in favor of the bill and did a really good job explaining the unique circumstances facing that district and providing some very good data for the committee.

The bill was approved by the committee.

I also visited both the Anoka-Hennepin and Owatonna school districts yesterday, providing a brief presentation to the Anoka-Hennepin district cabinet at noon and a presentation to the Owatonna school board Monday evening. As you know, making district visits is my favorite part of the job and I hope to get out to more districts this winter and spring.

The only education-related bill introduced on the Senate on Monday, January 8, was SF 28, another resolution introduced by Senator Wiger, this one urging Congress not to reauthorize NCLB without making revisions to the law. That bill was also heard on Monday in the Senate Education Committee and, like the resolution urging greater federal funding for special education, it passed.

The first House Files of the 2007 session were introduced on Monday and many of them appear to be companion files to legislation introduced in the Senate last Thursday. Included are HF 2 (Swails) All-Day Kindergarten; HF 3 (Marquart) Property Tax Relief; HF 5 (Bly) Early Childhood Education Funding; HF 6 (Greiling) 3% Increase in the General Education Formula; and HF 36 (Heidgerken) Modifying Integration Revenue.

The links to the bills I posted last week didn't work very well, so in this entry I will only put a link to the legislative home page.

Legislative Home Page:

Thursday, January 04, 2007

We're Back in Business. The Legislature convened on Wednesday, January 3, and while things aren't exactly flying yet, a couple of very important events took place today.

Primary among these events was the press conference held by Senate Tax Chair Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) announcing and outlining SF 1, the 2007 Property Tax Relief Act. It's clear that the Senate DFL is making property tax relief one of its highest--probably the highest--priority during the 2007 legislative session.

Here is a link with more information regarding the bill, with both video from Senator Bakk's press conference and a diagram outlining, in rough terms, the bill's goals. Link:

Text of the bill can be found at the following link: (Note that the bill text is provided in a pdf file, so you must have Adobe Acrobat to view the text.)

Due to the YMCA Youth in Government convention, the House was not in session today and will next meet again on Monday, January 8. The first House Files of the year will be introduced at that time.