Long Day with Four Meetings. All of the education-related committees in the House and Senate met today and covered a lot of territory. With the passage of the first policy committee deadline, the education finance-related committees in both the House and Senate are starting to dig into the bills that have been referred to them by the education policy committees. The finance-related committees are also using their time to discuss bills with finance/formula implications that have trickled in over the past couple of weeks. With the relatively late start to the session for a budget year (January 8) and the early first deadline (March 15), not a lot of time was available for members to quickly get their ideas drafted into bill form. This has led to a backlog over the past couple of weeks as bill authors and committees are playing the legislative version of "Beat the Clock."
While there were a lot of bills of interest presented today, perhaps the most pertinent of these to SEE members is HF 1406 (Radinovich), the House companion bill to SF 576 (Skoe), the creates a $300 per pupil unit roll-in of referendum revenue. Districts with referenda of less than $300 per pupil unit will be allowed to levy on through a board-approved discretionary levy up to a $300 per pupil unit amount, while districts with referenda above $300 per pupil unit will have their referendum reduced by that amount and replaced with a board-approved discretionary levy of $300 per pupil. I testified in favor of the bill along with a number of other education groups, included AMSD, MREA, Isaiah, and a pair of students (one from North Branch and one from Cambridge-Isanti). There seems to be a lot of interest in doing something for low-revenue districts this session and this bill (or something like HF 755/SF 929) would be a big step forward in that regard.
Speaking of HF 755/SF 929, that bill will be up in the Senate E-12 Division tomorrow morning. I will let you know how things turn out.