Saturday, March 01, 2014

Thursday Bill Intros.  It wasn't quite as voluminous as Tuesday's set of introductions (when I almost needed a wheelbarrow to cart the document around), but another healthy set of introductions that will start to wend their way through the process.  Unsession?  Unlikely.

So, here we go:

SF 1938 (Pederson)/HF 2256 (Dorholt):  Allows districts with enrollment greater than 7,000 to get full $424/PU in Location Equity Revenue:  This is the first of many bills that will be introduced this session dealing with Location Equity Revenue and the "doughnut hole."

SF 1939 (Pederson)/Currently No House Companion:  Expands eligibility for English Language learners from 5 to 7 years:

SF 1967 (Wiger)/HF 1920 (Newton):  Rolls Alternative Compensation (QComp) Funding to the basic general education formula allowance:

SF 2032 (Kiffmeyer/Currently No House Companion: Makes definition of metro area for equity revenue identical to the definition of metro area for Location Equity Revenue:

SF 2096 (Hoffman)/HF 2296 (Newton):  Changes allocation of compensatory revenue requirements:

HF 2378 (Davnie)/Currently No Senate Companion:  Increases revenue for developmental screening aid, early education programs, extends English language learner eligibility from 5 years to 7 years, increases ABE funding:

HF 2387 (Benson)/Currently No Senate Companion:  Mandate relief.  Eliminates 2% staff development set-aside, relaxes publishing requirements, changes compensatory revenue allocation formula:

HF 2387 (Marini)/SF 1889 (Torres Ray):  MDE Technical Bill:

HF 2443 (Marquart)/Currently No Senate Companion:  Allows September 1 start date for 2015-2016 school year:

HF 2462 (Winkler)/Currently No Senate Companion:  Increases ABE formula for community-based providers:

HF 2477 (Davnie)/SF 1829 (Kent):  Increases Appropriation for early childhood literacy programs:

HF 2480 (Selcer)/Currently No Senate Companion:  Increases funding for reduced-price lunches and makes reduced-price lunch participants eligible for free lunch:

HF 2489 (Woodard)/SF 1873 (Petersen):  Changes unrequested leave-of-absence policy.  Eliminates LIFO and makes leave-of-absence policies up to district negotiation:

HF 2514 (Davnie)/SF 2160 (Kent):  Creates a transportation funding source for certain students attending an area learning center outside their resident district:

HF 2544 (Benson)/Currently No Senate Companion:  Clarifies location equity revenue qualifications:  This bill provides that all districts under 2,000 pupils that do not receive small schools revenue are eligible for $212/PU.  There will be another bill coming that will allow districts that receive small schools revenue to opt for either location equity revenue or small schools revenue and it will likely be introduced next week.

Broadband Access.  It isn't talked about as much as it should be in the context of education, but broadband access is an increasingly important educational equity issue for many Minnesota communities.  Senator Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing) has introduced SF 2056 that would establish a competitive grant program for communities that are currently behind the curve in broadband access.  If we've learned anything this winter, it's that the weather can wreak havoc on school schedules.  Increased broadband access throughout Minnesota would allow for the establishment of blended learning models that incorporate online and in-person educational programs that would make days when the formal school session is cancelled an opportunity to use technology to make certain those days aren't lost learning days as well.  The problem is that broadband access is uneven throughout the state and Senator Schmit's bill would help create greater access for students throughout the state to a quality broadband network.

SF 2056 (Schmit)/Currently No House Companion:

I Probably Should Have Led with This.  Budget situation gets ever rosier.  Another $408 million has been added to the projected surplus for the remainder of this biennium, bringing the total projected surplus to $1.233 billion.  $6 million of the increased budget balance comes from the stadium reserve, with $366 million coming from increased revenue and $48 million being contributed through lower-than-expected state expenditures.  An improving state economy is central in both of those numbers.

There is serious talk of compliance with changes in the federal tax code and repeal of a number of the business-to-business tax increases enacted last year, which would cut the projected balance just about in half.  That would leave considerable revenue on the table for either enacting new spending programs, augmenting existing spending programs, or increase state budget reserves.  When I gently jibed the idea of an unsession earlier in this post, the framework I've described in this paragraph is what I had in mind.  Available revenue usually puts a jolt of energy in the Legislature, both for those who want to put more revenue into programs and those who want to cut taxes.  I imagine we're going to see increased activities from both of these platoons in the coming weeks.  Legislative life is going to get very interesting.

Here is a link to the Minnesota Management and Budget page outlining the forecast.  The Forecast at a Glance provides a quick overview, but if you want to dig deeper,  the document link below that provides a more comprehensive description of all of the elements that have contributed to the current situation.

MMB Link:

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