Facilities Maintenance Funding for Forest Lake Schools
Along with Sen. Karin Housley in the Senate, I am carrying legislation that would allow Forest Lake schools to have equal access to funding that would keep school buildings in a state of good repair and to not allow buildings to deteriorate when a new facility should be constructed. ISD 831 has identified several aging buildings in the district that are in need of repaid, and legislation would qualify them to apply for some of these funds that are not available locally. You can read more about the bill here.
More Good News for the Budget
Minnesota received good news this week, again. It was reported on April 10 by the Department of Management and Budget that during the two month period of February and March, the state received $145 million more in tax receipts than was forecasted for that period. These increases came in all tax receipt areas and show a steady trend of economic improvement in Minnesota. This improvement may be due, in part, to the decisions not to raise taxes in 2011.
Since the passage of the 2011 budget, which we are currently operating under, our state was able to turn around a deficit of over $5 billion dollars. Given the additional revenues from February and March, the $627 million deficit projected for the next biennium will be reduced as well.
Education Finance Bill Announced
The bill to finance K-12 Education was revealed this week by the House and will spend $15.7 billion over the next biennium. The bill includes early learning childhood scholarships and increases for students that we piloted last biennium, increasing the basic funding formula by $209 per pupil and implementing all-day kindergarten. The expansion of all-day kindergarten is not fully funded, though, and may force school districts to either subsidize these costs from other areas of their budget or increase class sizes. I am concerned with the funding for new regional “centers of excellence” that may micromanage some decisions by our school districts. We should be focused on empowering parents, keeping effective teachers in the classroom, and reducing unfunded mandates.
Online Service for Homeowner Property Tax Refund
The Minnesota Department of Revenue will begin offering free electronic filing for homeowners who qualify for a Property Tax Refund. They are launching a promotional campaign to build awareness and inform taxpayers about the new service. This is the first time the Minnesota Department of Revenue has offered a free online filing solution for individual property taxes. You can learn more about it online here.
Have a great weekend.