The omnibus education finance bill has officially graduated.
Following a brief discussion Thursday, the House Education Finance Committee approved HF2497, as amended, on a 11-7 party-line vote. The bill now heads to the House Taxes Committee.
Prior to adopting the delete-all amendment outlined yesterday, the committee accepted five additional DFL-sponsored amendments, with the most substantive being a five-page sponsor’s amendment brought forth by Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins).
Most of it contains technical fixes but notable changes include:
Rep. Heather Edelson (DFL-Edina) and Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL-Minnetonka) were responsible for the others, with each offering two friendly amendments.
Edelson’s made minor changes to the article on literacy and affirmed nonunionized charter schools would be eligible for funding to compensate special education teachers for the completion of due process paperwork. Pryor’s clarified the high school science standards to explicitly mention earth science and extended the prohibition on seclusion-based punishments through grade 3, as strongly urged by many testifiers. However, schools would have until Dec. 31, 2024, to put the ban into effect.
Rep. Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls) unsuccessfully offered a contrary delete-all amendment representing Republican priorities, specifically greater local flexibility to utilize funding increases made possible by the budget surplus. A trimmed down proposal of 45 pages, the amendment would have:
But this educational program was not to be. Instead, the committee gave its stamp of approval for a $23.2 billion budget (with $2.2 billion in new spending), which would make the following big-ticket allocations:
Additionally, public schools would have to supply menstrual products and naloxone (to counteract opioid overdoses) to students at a cost of $3.6 million, and the construction of gender-neutral bathrooms would be jumpstarted with an allotment of $2 million.
As previously reported, the bill also incorporates the omnibus education policy bill, which would alter the educational landscape in the following noteworthy ways:
Pryor is most excited about tying the basic formula to inflation and is already looking forward to the next session.
“That is a gamechanger and that is historic,” she said. “Then these discussions that we’ve had in an abbreviated way, I think that we can really flesh out and talk about where our innovation will be going forward.”