This week, a bill to pay back last year’s $430 million school shift passed Education Finance. It would also make the first repayment toward the $2 billion shift enacted by the DFL legislature a few years ago. Considering the state has $1.2 billion sitting in the bank, it makes sense to pay back what we owe. The Tax Committee will take this up next week.
This week in the spotlight:
The Education Reform Committee passed HF2161, providing for mayoral control of the Saint Paul and Minneapolis public school districts. Currently, these urban school districts operate in isolation from the mayor and the city’s political and civic leadership. Adopting an integrated governance approach would create a system where the city government and the school district are operated jointly under mayoral leadership for both accountability and management.
Minnesota’s urban school districts struggle with financial and academic challenges. Some studies indicate that mayoral control of education with an appointed school board raises student achievement and improves financial status by reducing administrative expenses. By providing the mayor with more control over the school district, there can be more stability, discipline, and accountability in education. Furthermore, mayors have extensive influence with municipal and business leaders in the community as well as state officials. This gives them an advantage that superintendants and school boards typically don’t have, allowing them to promote and coordinate educational interests with community leaders.
Other bills moving through committee:
The Commerce Committee passed HF2251, transferring regulation power of HMOs from the Department of Health to the Department of Commerce. This will create more transparency and efficiency in the system since the DOC already regulates health insurance.
Rep. Erickson’s “Innovation Delivery of Education Services and Sharing of District Resources” bill passed K-12 Education Finance. This five-year project would allow school districts to form partnerships to share resources as well as innovative ideas with the purpose of raising student achievement. This initiative will give our students access to programs and equipment that might not otherwise be available to them.
The Government Operations Committee approved HF2244, a bill that creates a new authority to manage school trust lands instead of the Department of Natural Resources.
In the media:
Rep. Pam Myrah’s bill requiring transparency in public employee separation payments was featured in two favorable editorials. The Star Tribune wrote “the measure is a step in the right direction. Minnesota's data practices rules need stronger, clearer language about payouts to public employees.” The Pioneer Press was also supportive of the bill. Click here to read more.