Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

A disaster waiting to happen?

Published (1/30/2009)
By Kris Berggren
Share on: 



School officials told the House K-12 Education Finance Division Jan. 28 they’d rather shift than cut.

That is, they’d rather live with the governor’s proposed accounting shifts to the education finance formula than make outright cuts to staff and programs. But they said such shifts are really a short-term solution to a perennial problem of an untenable education funding formula.

School districts now receive 90 percent of school aid revenue in the fiscal year in which it is appropriated and 10 percent the next fiscal year. The governor has proposed an 80-20 split for the 2010-2011 biennium that would reduce the General Fund operating deficit by “borrowing” $1.3 billion from school districts by withholding an extra 10 percent of 2010 aid until 2011.

Increasing the split means school districts must draw from budget reserves or borrow to meet financial obligations. Districts in statutory operating debt may apply for an exemption.

Rep. Mindy Greiling (DFL-Roseville), the division chairwoman, said the governor’s proposal is a tactic that undercuts education funding increases and imposes debt on districts.

“I hate shifts,” she said. “It will delay funding things like the New Minnesota Miracle. It will flat-line schools for quite a while, I think.”

Peggy Ingison, Minneapolis Public Schools chief financial officer and a former state finance commissioner, said shifts should be used as a “last resort.”

“If I had a choice of side A, raising revenue or cutting spending, and over here is choice B, where you are doing shifts, wouldn’t you recommend side A rather than side B?” asked Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington).

Ingison said the size of the projected state deficit means looking at “tax increases, spending cuts and shifts” to find a “balanced approach.”

Superintendent Joe Brown of the 376-student Grand Meadow district said he has already made difficult staff and program cuts, increased revenues and enrollment, has low transportation costs and high energy efficiency – and still had to cut $300,000 to balance this year’s budget.

Although he likes the governor’s budget and ideas about education, Brown said shifts aren’t the answer. “I think this is a disaster waiting to happen.”

Session Weekly More...


Session Weekly Home



Related Stories


The year without a K-12 law
School funding is flat, no reforms enacted
(view full story) Published 6/1/2010

House K-12 omnibus bill fast-tracked
Senate slow to respond with companion legislation
(view full story) Published 5/13/2010

K-12 education omnibus bill stalls
Teacher licensure proposals in contention
(view full story) Published 5/6/2010

K-12 education bill moves forward
Measures would activate reforms, stabilize school funding
(view full story) Published 4/29/2010

Resuscitating Race to the Top bid
New bid could hinge on proposals to boost teacher effectiveness
(view full story) Published 4/22/2010

Raiders of the lost fund
Slew of reforms could boost Permanent School Fund income
(view full story) Published 3/25/2010

Schools shore up state’s checkbook
Obscure law forces drawdown of school reserves before state can borrow
(view full story) Published 2/25/2010

At Issue: No shifts, no cuts
Education funding in a holding pattern
(view full story) Published 5/29/2009

At Issue: E-12 education bill that might have been
Funding held steady with no shifts proposed, but no Minnesota Miracle
(view full story) Published 5/15/2009

At Issue: Investing in quality care for kids
Lawmakers hope for long-term benefits of early investment
(view full story) Published 4/24/2009

At Issue: Building a better formula
Omnibus K-12 education finance bill floor debate highlights obstacles
(view full story) Published 4/24/2009

At Issue: Whose values are they anyway?
Lawmaker carries on family legacy with sex education bill
(view full story) Published 4/17/2009

First Reading: One school doesn’t fit all
Efforts put forward to tailor charter school law
(view full story) Published 4/10/2009

At Issue: Hopeful education goals in a dismal year
Omnibus bill addresses changing needs and future demands
(view full story) Published 4/3/2009

At Issue: Getting kids to move
Bill aims to ensure ‘No child left on their behind’
(view full story) Published 2/20/2009

First Reading: Accountability funding for all
A ‘New Minnesota Miracle’ requires a leap of faith
(view full story) Published 2/13/2009

At Issue: Q Comp found wanting
Performance measure has perks, but is it affordable?
(view full story) Published 2/6/2009

At Issue: Reforming education, saving money
Bipartisan support shown for mandate reduction and shared services
(view full story) Published 1/23/2009

Feature: Passing the torch of democracy
Youth immerse themselves in lingo and actions of lawmaking
(view full story) Published 1/16/2009