Monday, February 20, 2017

Equalization Bill Introduced in Senate.  Sticking with the space theme of last week when the "Eagle" landed, the LEM (Legislative Equalization Measure) made its way to the Senate from the Sea of Tranquility (known as the House of Representatives) with the introduction of SF 1206.  SF 1206--authored by Senator Dave Senjem--is the companion to HF 1381, the comprehensive equalization bill introduced in the House last Thursday (and authored by Representative Joe McDonald).  Both bills have been initially referred to the education funding committees in their respective houses and will likely receive a hearing sometime in early March.  There will also likely be other equalization bills introduced during the session and we cannot forget that the Ag Bond Credit that was part last year's vetoed tax bill will also be front-and-center in legislative tax discussions.  All in all, it should be a big year for discussion of how the property tax fits into various elements of the education funding system and that may translate into tangible results.  So, stay tuned.

SF 1206

Great Education Funding Article on MinnPost.  Greta Kaul wrote a comprehensive article at MinnPost giving a very concise description of Minnesota's oft-confusing education funding system.  I have provided the link below.  The education funding system can seem incomprehensible at times (and seems to find a way to become moreso with each passing session), but Kaul does an excellent job in the article of presenting the various nuances that comprise the formula in plain language.

The Legislature is going to be debating education funding again. How, exactly, does Minnesota pay for its schools?




Committee Report for Monday.  The Senate E-12 Finance Committee was the only education-related committee meeting today and it covered three bills.  The first of these was SF 709.  SF 709 provides the tax relief portion of the commitment made to districts that were part of the maximum effort loan program that re-financed their loans early and provided the state with $50 million in savings last year.  The revenue part of the agreement for those districts was handled in last year's supplemental appropriations bill.  SF 709 was recommended to pass and re-referred to the Tax Committee.  The committee also heard Chair Nelson's SF 722, a bill that clarifies charter school lease aid, and Senator Wiger's SF 13, a bill that would provide a grant to the "Rock n' Read" program. The "Rock n' Read" program is a music-based program that has shown promise in helping young students experiencing reading problems reach proficiency.

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