Hearings All Day. Three hearings today. First off was the House Education Innovation Policy Committee, which dealt with three bills. The first was Representative Erickson's bill--HF 731--that would formalize the curricular requirements that accompany the civics test school districts must now give to high school students. Nothing has changed from current application of the test, but civics is now clarified as part of the social studies curriculum. The other two bills dealt with proposed tax credits. The first of these bills--HF 574 authored by Representative Dean Urdahl--would provide teachers who pursue a Master's Degree in their curricular field a refundable tax credit. The second was HF 602, Representative Sarah Anderson's proposal to expand Minnesota's Education Tax Credit to include expenditures on pre-school programs. Both of the tax credit bills were referred to the Tax Committee.
The second hearing was the House Education Finance Committee. That committee devoted its time to continued presentation of the Governor's education budget proposal and then took testimony from education groups outlining what they like (or dislike) in the Governor's budget. I had the opportunity to testify today on behalf of SEE and credited the Governor with presenting a budget with a healthy--and realistic--budget target of $604 million. I voiced the organization's support for the 2% increase in both years of the biennium for general education basic formula, the $40 million in increased special education aid, the proposal to use the pension subtraction instead of the basic formula to rectify the deficit in Teachers Retirement Fund, and the Governor's decision to increase debt service equalization in the tax bill.
The Senate Education Policy Committee was the last meeting of the day and it heard the Legislative Auditor's report on teacher licensure along with the recommendations of the Legislative Working Group of Educator Licensing.