Thursday, May 14, 2009

Here is the Latest. The Tax conference committee is still kicking around trying to come to a revenue solution to fund the spending bills that will pretty much be passed by the end of today. The Governor has stated that he is inclined to sign all of the spending bills and using executive authority to balance expenditures (currently approximately $3 billion above the amount of revenue available in the absence of a tax bill, shifts, or the bonding-for-cash provision proposed by the Governor).

$3 billion isn't exactly the kind of money you can find by looking under the couch cushions, so the Governor would have to exercise the line-item veto in a machete like manner, un-allot large portions of state revenue, and (I didn't realize he could do this without legislative approval) change the aid payment shift for school districts.

At any rate, these last few days of the legislative session are going to be interesting. We will know by tomorrow morning how much of this will unfold as the Governor has until midnight to either sign or veto the omnibus health and human services appropriations bill. If he vetoes that bill, things are probably going to be very hectic all weekend long. Whether or not that means he will veto the E-12 bill in the event of a veto of the health and human services bill remains to be seen.

One mitigating factor would be that the whole subject of the New Minnesota Miracle has cropped up again. This is only "whispers in the back of the church" stuff, but rumor has it that the Governor has expressed some interest in using the New Minnesota Miracle as a vessel for some of his proposed reforms, which would be entirely appropriate. Those of us involved with PS Minnesota invited the executive branch over a year ago to investigate how some of their priorities would fit into the PS Minnesota framework, but, for whatever reason, there was little interest on the part of the Governor.

It is heartening, if these reports are true, that the Governor is taking an interest in the PS Minnesota/New Minnesota Miracle effort. I certainly welcome him to the effort. While I don't agree with everything he has proposed in the past few years, he has shown a great interest in many aspects of education policy and funding and if he, along with the Minnesota Department of Education, join in the combined effort, good things are likely to happen. They may happen slowly, but certainly the Administration's presence at the funding reform table would be welcome and telling.

Check out this editorial from the StarTribune today, extolling the New Minnesota Miracle. Whether or not we get further down the road in the next few days or the next few months, it is difficult to stress how important this initiative is and what it means to the future of education in Minnesota.


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