A Week Well Spent – Update for January 18

/ 18 January 2013 / eunice

Important Date: January 22 – Release of the Governor’s Budget 

A Week of Learning

It was a week well spent as members of both House and Senate education finance committees delved deeply into the basics of school funding.

After hearing members’ goals for this year, House Education Finance Chair Marquart asked staff to present information on the topics that arose as fiscal priorities for members:

  • Supporting student performance and reducing achievement gaps
  • Adequacy of school funding
  • Equity of school funding
  • Special education adequacy
  • Paying back the school shift

The Senate E12 Division heard a well-crafted briefing on education finance from fiscal staff.  While the formula is complex, the explanation presented to the committee was excellent. This overview preceded School Finance Director Dr. Melcher’s presentation of the recommendations of the Commissioner’s Education Finance Working Group.

All these presentations provided terrific context for the discussions and decisions that will be had in this legislative session.

On Policy

On the policy side, both House and Senate education policy committees requested presentations that provided a broad overview of the work of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), the many recently completed state level task forces, and the MDE’s K12-post-secondary alignment initiative. It was encouraging to hear how often committee chairs spoke of using data, research and evidence to determine the efficacy of good policy.

In Senate testimony, Education Commissioner Cassellius stated the MDE’s mission: “Leading for educational excellence and equity every day for everyone.”She reiterated the point she often makes: the MDE needs to be an agency that compiles and shares best practices and must lead that effort.

Early Childhood and Youth Development

The House Early Childhood and Youth Development Committee began this week with a focus on mental health and our youth; it will be interesting to see what direction this newly formed committee takes this session.

A Look Ahead

The Governor’s budget is due to be released on January 22. In this first year of the biennium, the legislature must produce a balanced state budget, and the release of the governor’s budget is the formal beginning of that process. The budget forecast released in November 2012 is used to produce the Governor’s budget; if there is a substantial difference, the February forecast may alter this initial budget.

The February forecast is due February 28 and, more than usual, all eyes are on Washington. What happens at the federal level may have far-reaching effects on our state finances. Never a dull moment with lots of moving pieces!

**A Rare Committee Hearing on Wednesday:

** On Wednesday, January 23, at 8:15 am, in Room 10 of the State Office Building, House Finance and Senate E12 Division will hold a rare joint meeting to discuss the Governor’s budget. This will provide an overview of the Governor’s education priorities through his budget recommendations.

**Interested in being heard?

** On January 22, 24 and 29 House K12 Finance Chair Marquart “invites testimony on E-12 related programs/activities that fall under the committee’s goals of 1) supporting student performance and closing achievement gaps; 2) funding adequacy; 3) funding equity; 4) special education adequacy; 5) paying back the shift; and can provide data demonstrating positive outcomes.” Interested in testifying? Please contact the committee administrator, shannon.patrick@house.mn. If you would like to know more about what this entails, please email me, mary@parentsunited.org

If you are planning a Capitol visit, it is always a good idea to check the House/Senate schedule the morning of your visit; hearings and agendas are often changed.

At the Parents United Website:

 

Mary Cecconi, Executive Director

Parents United for Public Schools

1667 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108

651-999-7391; mary@parentsunited.org