Senate Passes E-12 Bill Easily. The Senate passed the E-12 conference committee report on a vote of 52-14. 20 Republicans joined 32 DFLers in supporting the bill. The 14 "no" votes were split evenly between Republicans and DFLers with 7 of each caucus voting to not support the conference committee report.
So, where do we go from here? The Governor has reiterated his intent to veto the bill several times, so it is my guess that is what will happen. The questions are when would the special session be called and where will it be held? It's moving day around the Capitol today as staff whose bills have passed are cleaning out their Capitol offices in order to move to different accommodations for the next year.
The Governor intends to hit the road tomorrow and make a case for his stance on the overall education budget and the importance of his early childhood initiative. It will be interesting to see how that turns out and whether it affects his popularity. There will likely be so much spinning in the next few days that those that follow the process will get dizzy from the charges and counter-charges that will be flying about.
So stay tuned. At the very least, it's important that we thank legislators for their hard work this session. I would have liked to seen another $100 million added to the target, but in a year when negotiations and initial legislative targets were not promising, coming out at $400 million should be welcomed. I'm also pleased that we got one of the two biggest equity "holes" filled with the passage of the facilities issue. I was kidding MREA lobbyist Sam Walseth the other day that when issues where we are in league, we should merge the organizations with the new acronym MRSEE (Minnesota Rural Schools for Equity in Education), pronounced "mercy" of which we would show none. I can remember back to 1991 when I was first lobbying and held a joint contract between MREA and SEE where both organizations worked to establish referendum and debt service equalization. When we work together, there are equity gains and I want to thank MREA Executive Director Fred Nolan, MREA Legislative Director Sam Walseth, and MREA lobbyist Joe Gould for all of the work we shared. Both MREA and SEE were doggedly determined to move the ball forward on the facilities issue and we got it done.
One of the big disappointments was not seeing the Alternative Compensation cap eliminated. The $9.5 million appropriated for Alternative Compensation will take care of those districts that currently have approved plans, but no one else. With the teacher evaluation mandate, districts need revenue to perform the duties associated with that effort. Districts with Alternative Compensation plans in place have resources at their disposal that districts not participating in Alternative Compensation do not. This simply has to change.
So hang tight for the next 24 hours. We'll know more in a day or two about what is going to happen and when it is going to happen. Until then, it's important to read the conference committee report and the linked data because if the bill is re-opened during a special session, I don't foresee a lot of changes.
Link to bill: HF 844 Conference Committee Report
Appropriations Tracker: Biennial Appropriations by Program
District-by-District Run: FY 2016 (2015-2016 School Year)
District-by-District Run: FY 2017 (2016-2017 Fiscal Year)