Prioritizing additional investments in general education basic revenue and special education funding, the House Education Finance Division began hearings on its omnibus education funding bill Monday.
Chair of the division, Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls) sponsors HF2400, which was amended and tabled for further discussion. Additional testimony is scheduled for Tuesday, with amendments and action scheduled for Thursday.
The proposal would increase education spending by $900 million during the 2020-21 biennium over the base budget, with the largest investment, $521 million, used to increase the general education basic formula by 3 percent in Fiscal Year 2020 and 2 percent in Fiscal Year 2021.
Another significant investment, $118 million, would be appropriated to increase special education aid, remove the aid growth cap, add cross-subsidy reduction aid and reduce the portion of unreimbursed special education costs. Similarly, policy provisions would aim to reduce the amount of paperwork required of special education instructors.
The proposed funding increases received strong support from school board and administration representatives, including Brad Lundell, executive director of Equity in Education, who testified in support of the widespread investments.
“I can’t think of a dollar that’s in the bill that’s misspent,” Lundell said. “I think you’ve done a very good job at looking at a broad range of needs and coming forward with a very comprehensive look.”
Licensure system changes
Several policy provisions were picked up from the House Education Policy Committee’s omnibus E-12 bill, HF1711, including highly regarded provisions geared toward increasing the percentage of teachers of color, as well as controversial provisions that would change the state’s teacher licensure system.
The licensure changes would limit the number of times an educator could renew a Tier 1 and Tier 2 license, and it would prohibit them from teaching the same students more than one year. The provisions would require teachers to receive professional development in order to obtain advanced licensure, which proponents say will ensure they’re better prepared to teach students.
Given the recent rollout of the current system, critics, including Gary Amoroso, executive director of Minnesota Association of School Administrators, say the changes would be premature and could deter effective individuals from entering the profession.
“The tiered licensure piece, we really wish that would be given a chance to grow and develop,” Amoroso said. “We’ve not even been in it for a year yet and would like to see that continue to move forward without the changes.”
Other notable increased appropriations for the 2020-21 biennium include:
Other notable policy provisions would:
The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus education finance bill: