Busy Day of Testimony. I had my first opportunity to testify this morning in the Senate E-12 Division. Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood). Chair of the Division, called on all the major education lobbying groups to outline their goals for the 2013 session. It's always refreshing to have the opportunity, brief as it may sometimes be, to speak freely about the problems facing low property wealth districts and what can be done to alleviate those concerns. Our platform (found at the following link: http://www.schoolsforequity.org/2011_Legislative_Platform.html) is very straightforward this year. We are seeking both greater adequacy to stem the increasing reliance on the referendum levy and greater property tax equity when the referendum is employed. After providing a streamlined description of our platform (both the basic platform and the policy addendum), I commented on my disappointment with the failure of the Governor to include the re-establishment of the general education levy or increased equalization of the referendum and debt service programs. We'll have to see what happens as the session unfolds and I believe there is an opportunity to achieve the goal of greater equalization. Much will depend on if the economic situation continues to improve and reduces the projected budget shortfall of approximately $1 billion that is staring Minnesota in the face. Improved economic performance combined with some level of tax increase (and there will be a tax increase of some type) may put enough money on the table to do something in the area of equalization. At least that is my hope.
Ooops. I neglected to mention that parents from the Chisago Lakes School District were part of the group visiting the Capitol yesterday. Please accept my apologies. The entire organization thanks your participation and I'm sure the efforts of our parents will have a positive effect on our efforts.