Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Governor Releases Supplemental Budget.  As promised, the Governor delivered his supplemental budget recommendations for the 2016 legislative session today.  As foreshadowed in his State of the State Address, the budget is modest and concentrates heavily on one-time money as opposed to on-going budget commitments.  There are tax cuts, but none in the area of property tax equalization for school levies, which I held out some hope for. The largest commitment in the education portion of the budget is a $25 million program for early childhood education.  The budget "tails" are $40 million for FY 18 and $60 million for FY 19. The proposal creates a voluntary program that weights a pre-kindergarten student at 0.6.  While funding would be shared throughout the state, areas that do have high levels of poverty or have an absence of three- or four-star programs pre-school program would receive greater attention.

Here are the other budget recommendations in the education area for this year:

  • $12.3 million in FY 17, $12.1 million in FY 18, and $12.1 million in FY 19 for a teacher workforce package to address Minnesota's teacher shortage.
  • $10.0 million for teacher development and evaluation for all districts and cooperatives not receiving QComp revenue.
  • $1.0 million in FY 17 for Way to Grow.
  • $2.0 million in FY 17 for Full Service Community Schools.
  • $2.8 million in FY 17 for PBIS implementation.
  • $1.0 million in FY 17, $1.0 million in FY 18, and $1.0 million in FY 19 for the Restrictive Procedures Working Group.
  • $69,000 in FY 17, $78,000 in FY 18, and $78,000 in FY 19 for the Metro Deaf Charter School,.
  • $120,000 in FY 17 to fully fund GED testing.
  • $2.0 million in FY 17, $540,000 in FY 18, and $540,000 in FY 19 to fund MDE's online special education reporting system.
  • $4.4 million in FY 17 for technology upgrades at MDE.
  • $34,000 in FY 17, $30,000 for FY 18, and $30,000 in FY 19 for teacher licensure via portfolio.
  • $240,000 in FY 16 into QComp to accommodate two districts with approved QComp plans who did not receive revenue because funding for the program had been totally expended.
  • $30,000 in FY 16, $77,000 in FY 17, $83,000 in FY 18, and $87,000 in FY 19 for a Board of Teaching operating adjustment.

This adds up to:

 $270,000 in FY 16,  $60.8 million in FY 17, $53.8 million in FY 18, and $73.8 million for FY 19.

The Governor also has proposed the $100 million be spent in FY 17 on a statewide broadband grant program.

There are several items here that are contained in the SEE platform in some measure.  The organization has advocated for some teacher development and evaluation revenue for districts that do not participate in QComp.  It would have been nice to see something done on an on-going basis as opposed to a one-time program reminiscent of the one-time program passed in 2014.  Addressing the teacher shortage is also a very high priority of SEE's and it's good to see this addressed in the Governor's budget recommendations, although we haven't seen the details of the approach yet.  Lastly. the $100 million for broadband is an investment that should help many school districts, especially those outside the metropolitan area.

It would have been nice to see more revenue and somewhat different priorities from the Governor's budget, but there are some good things here.  We'll have to wait to see the language, but these proposals provide a decent stepping-off point for the discussions that will take place the rest of this session.

Here is a link to the supplemental budget recommendations.  The education proposals are found on pages 7 through 10.  The broadband proposal is found on page 12.

Link:  Governor's Supplemental Budget

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