For more information contact: Andrew Wagner 651-296-2809
This week in the Education Finance committee, the Democrats unveiled their spending proposals for the 2014-2015 education budget in the form of the Education Finance Omnibus bill.
Highlights include a $209 dollar per pupil ($550 million in total) funding increase to the general formula, opportunity scholarships that make it easier for low-income parents to make education decisions that best suit their children, and funding for all-day kindergarten.
The proposal also makes the Dept of Education very powerful. I call it a COMMAND and CONTROL center as the department will be in the face of school districts constantly, with new demands about testing, standards, benchmarks for learning, and more. In all there are at minimum 30 new directives to school districts coming from the states. Simply put, these are one-size-fits-all mandates, many of which are completely unfunded and will require schools to either shift money away from other programs or increase class sizes.
The Democrats also removed basic graduation standards as a part of their Education bill. It simply makes no sense for graduates not to be held to a standard of graduating with proficiency or above in reading, writing or math.
A big thank you to the group from Mille Lacs County - the County Sheriff, County Attorney, two County Commissioners, two Mayors, and the citizens that took the time to drive to St. Paul earlier this week to meet with the governor's legal staff on the application for Tribal Law and Order takeover by the Mille Lacs Band.
The Band used the 1855 boundaries for the application, boundaries which were disestablished in 1890 by the Nelson Act and later affirmed in a Supreme Court decision of 1913: State of MN v Mille Lacs Band. Declaring 61,000 acres as Indian country is problematic to all who live in the county for it takes away the property rights of landowners living in that area and harms our tax base. The tribe has also applied to place about 300 acres into trust, once again taking away part of the tax base of an already property-poor county.
As always, I hope you will contact me if you have any input regarding the budget bills, or any other pieces of legislation in the closing weeks of session. You can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-6746.
Have a great weekend,
State Representative, District 15A
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