Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Governor's Budget Released.  A day after the State of the State Address, Governor Dayton released his 2018-2019 biennial budget.  The budget for education shows a strong overall commitment to the subject with additional funding for a wide range of programs.  Here are the change items in the Governor's budget for E-12.

  • A 2% increase in the general education basic formula in each of the next two years.
  • A considerable expansion of $75 million over the biennium in the voluntary all-day pre-kindergarten program more than doubling the number of participants from 3,000 in FY 17 to 8,300 in FY 18 with projections of an additional 1,000 per year after that.  
  • A $40 million increase above base in the special education formula by adjusting the per pupil component of the formula upwards.
  • $4.3 million increase for American Indian contract schools.  The formula was increased in 2016, but the increases were sunset to hold down budget tails.  This would make the formula changes enacted last year permanent.
  • A $60 million increase in debt service equalization phased in over four years.  This provision was included in his tax bill recommendations released earlier this month.
  • $4 million increase in the Support our Students grant system passed last session.
  • $1 million in each year of the biennium for Full Service Community Schools.
  • $1.5 million in each year of the biennium for the Help Me Grow program.
  • $500,000 increase in each year of the biennium for the Education Partnership Pilot Program.
  • Expanded access to Early Childhood Scholarships for a wider age group with no new funding.
  • $68 million increase over the biennium to help districts cope with costs related to balancing the Teachers Retirement Association fund.  It is a positive sign that the Governor is suggesting this be handled outside of the increase in the General Education Basic Formula Amount.
  • $3.25 million to update the mainframe computer at the Minnesota Department of Education.
  • $1.5 million for development in an online IEP.
  • $10.5 million to pay for increased obligations at the Minnesota Department of Education.

Here is the link to the E-12 budget book.  The change items are found on pages 9 through 41.

2018-2019 E-12 Budget Proposal

Here is the link to all of the information on the on the 2018-2019 Governor's budget on the Minnesota Management and Budget web page.

Governor's 2018-2019 Budget Recommendations

Three Hearings.  One Subject.  All three of the education-related committees devoted their time to a bill introduced yesterday--HF 386/SF 256--that would make private school tuition eligible for reimbursement under Minnesota's Education Tax Credit.  While a wide range of investments can be claimed under the program, private school tuition has never been allowable since the program was established in 1997.  The argument for the expansion of the credit stems from the fact that low-income families with little or no tax liability get marginal benefit from the tuition tax deduction that has been in place in Minnesota since the 1950s.

The bill also contains tax incentives for companies to contribute to scholarship funds for low-income students.

While providing greater education choice to low-income families is a laudable goal, there are questions surrounding the proposal.  That said, given the support it has among the majority caucuses at the Legislature, it will likely receive a lot of discussion during the session and it may find its way into the omnibus tax bill.  Given the Governor's opposition during his tenure, it would hit a roadblock there but there will be a lot of tough negotiations as the session winds down in May (and hopefully doesn't extend into June).

On behalf of SEE, I testified against the legislation.

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