We Are Underway. The 2011 Legislative Session is underway. Legislators were sworn in on Tuesday and now the hard work of solving Minnesota's budget problems begins. There was a very light schedule of committee activity this week, but both the House Education Finance and House Education Reform Committees had their initial meetings. There will be a considerable amount of action in both panels, as a variety of funding and policy challenges will need to be addressed this session.
In an interesting note, House Education Finance Chair Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) has developed a motto for his committee. The motto reads, "Kids First. No Excuses. No Exceptions."
Here are the home pages for each of the education committees:
House Education Finance: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/committee.asp?comm=87005
House Education Reform: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/committee.asp?comm=87006
Senate Education (Both Finance and Reform): http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/committees/committee_bio.php?cmte_id=1005&ls=
One important note is that the Early Childhood Committee in the House has been eliminated in the committee restructuring process. Those accounts will be incorporated into both the Education and Health and Human Services committee structures. The destination of those accounts won't be known until the Legislature tackles the 2012-2013 biennial budget that will be released later this month.
In conversations with legislative leadership and Education Committee Chairs, the most important information that school districts can supply legislators is the number of mandates that they view as unnecessary to the delivery of quality education services and how much these mandates are costing school districts. There will be a concerted effort to reduce mandates in the upcoming session and it is important that legislators know how much relief will be provided through the relaxation of these burdens.