The special education cross-subsidy issue has been one that lawmakers have begun looking to solve with a long-term solution. In the meantime, they’re also considering some quick fixes.
Sponsored by Rep. Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud), HF4272 would create a new component of special education funding that would provide equity aid to school districts where the cross-subsidy is greater than the regional average. The change would result in an additional $20 million investment in Fiscal Year 2019.
The bill was held over Wednesday by the House Education Finance Committee for possible omnibus bill inclusion. The companion, SF3861, awaits action by the Senate E-12 Policy Committee. Sen. Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud) is the sponsor.
Fred Nolan, executive director for the Minnesota Rural Education Association, said this would provide much-needed relief to school districts in places like St. Cloud, Mankato and Duluth where parents with high-needs children often move for the availability of medical facilities. In turn, these areas have higher numbers of special education students and face greater cross-subsidies.
“This is a stop-the-bleeding bill,” he said. “If you’re going to try to have equity in your formula in 2019 we need to address the districts that have excessive cross subsidies.”
Knoblach said he’s hopeful that the special education working group, proposed earlier this session, if approved by the Legislature, will find ways to reduce the cost of special education and provide suggestions for innovative funding options. However, until then they need to create a fix for the districts in most need.
“This bill is not a solution. Minnesota needs to figure out how to reduce the growth rate of special education costs while maintaining quality,” he said. “But, regardless, we do need to put additional funding into reducing the cross-subsidy and this bill would help now with some of those districts with the most significant cross-subsidy issues.”
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