(NOTE: UPDATED WITH SENATE VOTE TOTAL)
Supporters hope that a bill overwhelmingly passed by the House and Senate will get a passing grade from Gov. Mark Dayton after an earlier attempt failed.
Sponsored by Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie) and Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), the $17.23 billion omnibus K-12 education finance bill would, in part, increase funding for early childhood and K-12 education spending by $525 million. The bulk of that spending — $346.31 million — would increase the basic per-pupil funding by 2 percent to $5,948 in Fiscal Year 2016 and $6,067 in Fiscal Year 2017 and later.
“Every school district will benefit,” Loon said. “This is the largest increase on the formula that we’ve been able to do in a long time.”
Passed 115-10 by the House and 53-12 by the Senate during Friday’s special session, HF1 awaits gubernatorial action. If signed by the governor, the financial provisions would mostly take effect July 1, 2015. Policy provisions would have various effective dates.
Family and early childhood appropriations would be bumped by $100.5 million, under the bill. The largest base increase would be $48.25 million in early learning scholarships — a $17 million increase over what was included in the regular session education finance bill vetoed last month by the governor. It would also increase school readiness funding by $30.75 million and calls for a $10 million increase to Head Start (which received zero increase in funding under the vetoed bill).
“This will go a long way to help close the achievement gap … and those students will enter school ready to learn,” Loon said.
An additional $12.5 million investment to help serve over 19,000 American Indian students and $5 million more for Bureau of Indian Education schools across the state is in the bill. It also provides $4 million in new funding for the Northside Achievement Zone and St. Paul Promise Neighborhood.
“This bill has a lot of good investment in targeted programs,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul). “The BIE schools are probably the most under-resourced schools in our state and will provide more opportunities for these students.”
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According to a summary by the nonpartisan House Research Department, the bill would also delay by one year to Jan. 1, 2017, “the date on which the sales tax exemption for government purchases will apply to special districts; instrumentalities of cities, counties, and townships, and all joint powers boards and organizations.”
“Why include a tax increase in this education bill?” said Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley). “This will amount to a tax increase to people who live in those cities.”
Rep. Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville) said the provision is not a tax increase, rather “it's a delay in an implementation of a tax decrease."
Some policy provisions in the bill include:
A number of policy provisions are directed at teachers, including addressing shortages in some subject areas in parts of the state, and the Board of Teaching, including:
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