MN House and Senate Agree on Education Budget Increase, But Differ on How to Proceed

It’s shaping up to be a banner year for schools in Minnesota, with billions of new dollars being earmarked for education in the budget.

The DFL led House and Senate agree on the overall amount, more than $2.1 billion in new money for the next two years, but differ on how to spread the dollars out.

For Minnesota schools, aid amounts from the state depend on multiple factors.  The most significant is a district’s overall number of students.

A lot of state dollars flow down through the basic per student formula and this year, it’s $6,863.

Both the House and Senate education budget bills would push that amount up by $275 per student for next school year, a 4 percent increase.

House Education Finance Chair Cheryl Youakim said it’s just a start.

She stated that this year, Minnesota is finally going to make a historic investment in education, but feels that 20 years of underfunding can’t be made up in one biennium.

It’s the second year and beyond where debate over the pot of new money gets tricky.

The Senate plan follows the 4 percent aid boost with a 5 percent bump, but in the house proposal, year two brings an increase of 2 percent.

The House bill also has a feature that the Senate bill doesn’t, the funding formula would automatically go up with a measure of inflation for years into the future, capped at 3 percent annually.

Youakim said this is a pivotal item that gives schools something to bank on.