Senate education plan would help schoolsPublished 2:30pm Saturday, May 11, 2013
Column: Senate Report, by Dan Sparks
A major finance bill being heard in a conference committee this week is the education finance bill. The Senate proposal makes a significant investment in Minnesota students. It begins with early education and continues all the way through post-secondary education. These are investments our state needs to ensure a strong economic future.
Schools districts across the state will see an increase in funding per pupil between the 2013 and the 2015 budget. Looking a little more specifically at our local school districts, there would be an average 4.7 percent increase in per pupil funding over the next two years. Albert Lea would see a 5.9 percent rise during this time under the Senate’s plan.
The Senate budget provides for all-day kindergarten and early education scholarships, in reforms to ensure our students are college and career ready; and in career and technical programs. Furthermore, this bill provides a 1 percent increase in the basic education formula allowance, which translates to $52 more per student statewide.
Support for our students does not stop when they graduate high school. The Senate’s higher education finance bill demonstrates a bi-partisan commitment to each and every Minnesota student. The bill increases student grants, puts strong cost controls in place and connects our post-secondary education to the workforce demands of tomorrow.
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities will receive a 5.7 percent boost under the Senate proposal. Riverland Community College and will see the positive effects of this increased investment. After years of cuts the Senate education budget proves our renewed support for education opportunities across Minnesota.
In addition to conference committee work on the budget, the full Senate continues to meet and work on policy matters. This week we passed the lands bill off the floor. I authored a provision that was included in this bill for Freeborn County. It will allow for the sale of a parcel of tax-forfeited land.
The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution requesting this authority and the regional DNR divisions review and support the provision. The bill received unanimous support in the Senate and strong bipartisan support in the House. It is now headed to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk for his signature.
Next week is the last full week of the 2013 legislative session. We will be working long hours passing final budget and policy bills. If you have questions regarding the Senate education finance bill or other legislation before the Senate, please feel free to contact my office.
Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, is the state senator for District 27.