The E-12 education final omnibus bill (House File 630) for FY 2014-15 makes important investments toward ensuring that all Minnesota students receive a top education and addressing Minnesota's racial achievement gap. The final bill increases E-12 education funding by $485 million in the FY 2014-15 biennium.
The final budget increases funding for schools through the basic student formula by 1.5 percent each year in the E-12 education bill and includes additional equalization revenue for districts through the omnibus tax bill (House File 677).
Not all students have the same opportunities, and students of color in the state have not performed as well as white Minnesota students on reading and math proficiency tests. So closing this racial achievement gap means making investments early and getting children on the right path from the beginning. The final bill attempts to do this through a few key proposals:
- Free full-day kindergarten available for all children starting in FY 2015.
- Early learning scholarships so high-need children ages 3 to 5 can attend high-quality early childhood programs, an increase of $40 million.
The E-12 education omnibus bills also invests in children as they move through school by funding such provisions as:
- Minnesota Math Corps to help elementary and middle school students meet state standards.
- Regional Centers of Excellence to help schools increase achievement rates.
- Special education.
- Career and technical aid.
The omnibus education bill also supports lifelong learning opportunities by increasing funding for Adult Basic Education to help Minnesotans with such things as their GED, English as a second language, and workplace literacy.
Originally, the House proposed to fully repay the school funding shifts, but the final bill directs any positive balance at the end of FY 2013 to go toward the shifts, in addition to current requirements to use positive balances in future forecasts.
The House bill originally included additional funding for Head Start to offset losses due to federal sequestration, and the Senate bill included increased funds for the Minnesota Reading Corps. These proposals, however, did not make it out of conference committee.
The E-12 education omnibus budget bill makes strong investments toward ensuring all children can reach their full potential, a crucial piece in building a high-quality workforce and our future economic success.