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Legislative Update: January 2023
Thursday, January 26, 2023 3:40 PM

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, Governor Walz released details of his budget recommendations for state government including for public schools. Over the next four months, State Legislators will consider his budget recommendations and craft a school spending bill that includes some of the Governor’s recommendations and other provisions important to them. 

The Governor's budget recommendations are a good start to the budget discussion. While they would represent the largest K12 education increase in state history, they fall short in the areas of special education and English Learner funding. Phasing in additional funding for these two critical areas is where we will focus our outreach.

Governor’s Budget Recommendations

Attached is a fact sheet from the governor’s office outlining his early childhood and K-12 education recommendations. Several of his recommendations align with MPS legislative goals. Below are a few of our top priorities and how they overlap with the Governor’s recommendations.

  1. General education aid formula: The amount of state revenue schools receive from the state. The Governor recommends: 

    1. 4% increase in fiscal year 2024,

    2. 2% increase in fiscal year 2025 and, 

    3. indexing the formula* to inflation in fiscal year 2026 and later (with a 3% cap on the inflation factor). 

*Indexing the formula to inflation is a top priority for MPS. “Indexing the formula” means to make adjustments to better match the current cost of living. MPS supports a bill that goes beyond the Governor's recommended levels. More details are below under “Bills to watch.”

  1. Special education aid - The Governor recommends closing the special education funding gap by 50%. This would provide MPS with more than $20 million annually. We will work with lawmakers to increase additional funding in future years beyond the amount proposed by the Governor. Historically, neither state nor federal government have fully funded special education services since they were rightfully mandated in the 1970s.

  2. English Learner aid - The state only covers 33% of MPS English learner costs. The Governor recommends that the state increase that to 50%. MPS supports bills SF21/HF 22 which would phase in full funding by 2027. More details on that bill are below. 

Bills to watch

Below are  bills that would most help MPS schools. The three bills listed below, if adopted into law, would close the funding gaps in special education and English Learner services, and adjust the general education aid formula to better match inflation. 

  1. Senate File 28/House File 18: Special Education Funding - This proposal would fully fund districts' current special education costs and fund future increase costs. For MPS, this represents the single largest funding bill this session. Interim Superintendent Rochelle Cox testified in support of the bill at this week's Senate Education Finance Committee. The House will likely hear the bill in the next two weeks.

  2. Senate File 22/House File 21: English Learner Funding - The bill would phase in full funding of district's English Learner costs by Fiscal Year 2027. The bill was also heard in the Senate Education Finance Committee this week.

  3. Senate File 448/House File 439: General Education Aid Formula - This bill would provide a 5% increase in the general education aid formula in both fiscal years 2024 and 2025. In fiscal year 2026, it would be adjusted to better match inflation. The bill has not yet been heard in the House or Senate, but anticipate it will get a hearing in early February.

These bills may be included in the final education finance bill adopted by the legislature. Over the next few months, MPS will send out action alerts asking parents to reach out to their state legislators seeking their support for these important bills.