Monday, June 15, 2015
Although it had some anxious moments, the special session of the legislature came to an end early this past Saturday morning, and after the governor signed the bills, Minnesota’s upcoming two-year budget is finally complete. Our make-shift chamber in a State Office Building committee room made for some tight quarters, with House members, staff, media, and visitors all cramped together, but things went relatively smoothly and the necessary business got done. In all, six bills were passed, including the massive K-12 education bill that spends $17 billion over the next two years.
The main change in that bill from the one vetoed earlier by Gov. Dayton is the addition of $125 million in new funding. The basic funding formula was raised by another one-half percent, which accounts for about half of the increase. Schools will now receive increases in that formula of two percent in each year of the biennium. Pre-school education was also addressed, although not in the fashion proposed by the governor. He had made pre-K or four-year old school programs one of his top priorities. However, that was dropped in favor of early learning scholarships and an increase in a program known as “school readiness.” Head Start also received more funding, as did Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE).