Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Live! From the House K-12 Funding Division! It's Tuesday Afternoon! House finance whiz Greg Crowe is currently going through his monologue, otherwise known as a section-by-section explanation of the House K-12. He will soon be joined by his colleagues Tim Strom and Lisa Larson, both of House Research, to describe other portions of the bill.

What we have learned thus far (not much new as most of this has been discussed previously):

  • The aid payment shift is set at 73% current year/27% subsequent year. This is seven percentage points greater than the level proposed by the Governor. The House proposal shifts--or saves depending on your perspective--the state budget another $400 million beyond the Governor's budget.
  • The property tax shift is the same as recommended by the Governor.
  • Unlike the Senate bill, which cuts school district funding beyond loss due to inflation, the House holds funding flat for the next two years. School districts should expect to receive the same amount of per pupil revenue that they received last year.
  • Future OPEB bonding is limited with a requirement that voters approve this bonding.
  • The Swails/McFarlane version of the shared-services initiative (contains no mandate or outside consultant) is in the bill.
  • Schools are able to start school before Labor Day in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years. It has been brought up that this legislation--in single bill form--was defeated in the House Finance Committee, but it was also added to the bill that was fashioned by Representative Tilberry's through an amendment, making it part of the current bill (just think of the famous early 1970s Yes song "Roundabout" about this time of the year. It certainly helps make sense of the process.)
  • Representative Newton's (and Senator Fobbe's) special education mandate reduction bill is contained in the House omnibus bill. Representative Davnie's language on the behavior intervention rule and limiting the use of locked timeout is also contained in the special education article.
  • The project cost cap for requiring review-and-comment is raised from $500,000 to $1.4 million.
  • One-time capital expenditure shift of last year is extended for the next two years at the same amount ($51 per pupil unit).
  • Article 9 contains "The New Minnesota Miracle." It is phased in over a four-year period beginning in FY 2014.

There's a lot more here and a lot more detail to what I have written. Some general observations:

  • Big time shift! Beyond the Governor's 80%/20% suggestion and in a different galaxy than the Senate's no-shift policy. Gee, guess what we'll be talking about in conference committee?
  • Good, make that great, work in the mandate reduction area, but it could have gone further.
  • No real increases in equalization in "The New Minnesota Miracle" proposal. There haven't been to this point (although Representatives Abeler and Gardner had bills heard on the topic this year) and that is something we need to work on, if not this year, in the future, and if not in this committee, then in the tax committee (use enough commas Faulkner?). In defense of its absence, we don't know what role the referendum will play as "The New Minnesota Miracle" takes hold, but the property tax burden is woefully out of whack (to the point of being just "whack"--hey I'm down with the kids and their lingo) and that needs to be corrected as we move forward.
  • It's hard to get excited about flat funding (and believe me, I'm not excited), but this might be the best we get this year. Chilling thought.

As you can see, I've gone to a larger type size. Hope that helps.

No comments: