Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Equal(ization) Has Landed.  Representative Joe McDonald's HF 1381 was introduced today.  This is the equalization bill I helped put together over the past couple of months along with the Minnesota Rural Education Association, the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, and the Minnesota School Boards Association.  The bill proposes to spend $80 million annually split almost evenly between referendum and debt service equalization.  This would be property tax relief in addition to--not in place of--the Ag Bond Credit that was part of the tax bill that was passed by the Legislature last spring.  The Ag Bond Credit is in the Governor's 2017 tax proposal along with an increase in debt service equalization.  The bill has 26 co-authors in addition to chief author McDonald.  The slate of co-authors spans the entire state and has members of both parties signing on to the bill.

The Senate companion authored by Senator Dave Senjem will be introduced on Monday.

Here is a link to the bill:  HF 1381

Full Day of Committees.  The education-related committees had a full slate on Thursday starting with the House Education Innovation Policy Committee at 8:15 AM.  The committee covered a lot of ground and tackled a couple of bills that generated a considerable amount of discussion.  At the top of the list was HF 905, Representative Kresha's bill to remove the word "willful" from suspension policy.  Advocates of the bill contend it would give teachers and administrators needed tools to maintain a positive school environment while opponents believe removing the language would only serve to increase the number of minority students who are suspended from school.  The debate was spirited and Committee Chair Sondra Erickson did an expert job of managing the discussion of a very emotional issue.  The committee also heard Representative Haley's HF 734, a bill that would fund existing education partnerships and hopefully increase their number.  Representative Gruenhagen's HF 998 was also heard.  This proposal would require an outside evaluation of Minnesota's special education system and perform a cost/benefit analysis.  Opponents of the legislation pointed out that Minnesota's special education system has been studied repeatedly over the past two decades and another study won't accomplish much without changes in Federal law.  HF 652, Representative Kresha's bill that would allow a school district to extend a food service contract by an additional year (from three to four) was also heard.  All the bills were laid over for possible inclusion in the House Omnibus Education Policy Bill.

The House Education Finance Committee heard HF 489, Representative Fenton's bill to fund the Minnesota Principals Academy.  The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the House Omnibus Education Funding Bill.  The committee then heard presentations from a number of districts that are participating in the state's QComp program.

The last hearing of the day was the Senate Education Policy Committee.  That committee heard SF 711, Senator Eric Pratt's companion to Representative Haley's HF 734 on education partnerships.




1 comment:

Kate said...

so glad to see this site! I have made a resolution to be more active and this will help a lot.