Thursday, May 06, 2010

Slightly Quieter, Still Confusing. The Supreme Court has ruled, but the decision kicked enough dust that it's a little hard to see how everything is going to work out in the next ten days. The state is now facing a budget deficit for the remainder of the biennium of approximately $3.5 billion and that's a lot of ground to cover in 10 days. Bills have introduced that would take care of all but about $550 million. For education, the only thing that is on the table is what most of us have wanted to happen all session: the formalization of the aid payment shift and early recognition of property taxes. That provision was introduced by the Governor and is contained in HF 2431, but the Senate has resisted (putting it lightly) making a commitment toward this end.

Needless to say, things are going to have to start happening fairly fast and with so many possible routes to the end, my guess is the path to the finish will be a bit serpentine.

The Latest Complication. The House version of the omnibus education funding and policy bill was slated to be heard last evening in the House Ways and Means Committee, but it was scratched at the last minute. It appears that the House majority is divided over whether or not to include alternative teacher licensure in the bill. Such a move would strengthen the state's position in the Phase 2 Race to the Top competition and would make the House look less at odds with the Governor in that quest. As it stands now, the House is bearing the brunt of a lot of criticism with its stance against including portions of the Governor's suggested changes to Minnesota education policy that I outlined yesterday in its bill.

A number of House members worked on crafting a compromise today that may be discussed when the Ways and Means Committee takes up the bill tomorrow (Friday). I will keep you posted.

Senate Action. The Senate Tax Committee discussed SFs 3063 and 3064 today. They are two of the three education-finance related Senate bills (as distinguised from SF 3189--the Senate's education policy bill that contains several of the Governor's policy recommendations) any of which could serve as a vehicle bill for the Senate's education finance (and perhaps) policy provisions.

What would not be surprising is if both Houses pass policy bills and that all of the finance provisions--from all budget areas--would be rolled into one "global" agreement. Those types of agreements usually run up until the end of session, so I doubt I'll have much to report on that until next week.

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