Federal

Minnesota Poised To Shift More School Spending to State

By Darcia Harris Bowman — June 06, 2001 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Despite striking a deal to meet Gov. Jesse Ventura’s long-standing demand for an overhaul of Minnesota’s school finance system, the legislature continued to labor last week over the final details of a biennial budget.

Under a proposal crafted by the Ventura administration, the state is poised to take over the day-to-day costs of K-12 education, shifting that burden away from the local property-tax base. The state pays about 70 percent of school operating costs now, for items such as teacher salaries, books, and fuel bills; the rest is covered by local property taxes.

The deal came after the official end of the state’s 2001 regular legislative session at midnight on May 21. The only spending bill to squeak through the House and the Senate before that deadline—a $544 million early-childhood-education bill—was promptly vetoed by the governor.

Mr. Ventura, an Independent, cited what he saw as a number of problems with that legislation, including its failure to go along with his administration’s proposal to consolidate the state’s three child-care- assistance programs. But the governor also vowed not to approve a single budget bill for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 fiscal years until the legislature had acted on his tax proposals.

“My top priority continues to be tax reform,” Gov. Ventura wrote in his veto letter, “and I will require a completed tax bill before I put my signature on any of the spending bills.”

The Ventura administration and the legislature did reach general agreement before the Memorial Day weekend on budget amounts and the revamped system for funding schools. The deal included about $800 million for local property-tax reductions and $926 million in new state spending, including about $381 million in additional money for K-12 education over two years.

The plan also calls for removing $310 per student from voter-approved levies being charged to property- tax payers and covering those costs with state-funded general education formulas. The 37 districts without levies would get an additional $310 per child in state aid, phased in over four years, beginning in fiscal year 2002- 03, and those with levies of less than $310 per student would also get more money.

James W. Guthrie, a professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and an expert on finance issues, called the Minnesota governor’s plan “creative as a compromise,” but said it did not break new ground in school finance reform.

“In order to be earthshaking, the governor would have to do something like propose eliminating the property tax altogether or eliminate local district access to the property tax,” Mr. Guthrie said. “He would have to link school [funding] to student performance. Those would be ‘radical’ ideas, such as are being implemented or considered in states such as Wyoming or Florida.”

But Gov. Ventura said in a May 25 press conference that his proposal “clearly delivers on the promise I made to Minnesotans last January: permanent property-tax relief starting next year, combined with fundamental reforms of the tax and school financing system.”

Tight Turnaround

The governor warned lawmakers they would need to begin a special session and pass the tax plan and budget before June 11 to give counties and school districts enough time to plan their budgets and prepare for the tax changes before the start of the new fiscal year, July 1.

Key legislators predicted last week that the deadline would be met despite continuing disagreements over how much to increase education spending. Some Democrats said the plan pushed by the governor and House Republicans would have serious repercussions for districts across the state.

Sen. Sandra L. Pappas, the chairwoman of the education committee in the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority, questioned the wisdom of shifting so much education spending to the state when an economic downturn appears imminent.

“I think we could increase the shift [to the state], but I don’t think a total takeover is that wise,” Ms. Pappas said. “It means we’re moving away from funding education with a fairly stable source of revenue—property tax—to less reliable income and sales taxes, which are growing very well right now, but there are signs that’s slowing down.”

A version of this article appeared in the June 06, 2001 edition of Education Week as Minnesota Poised To Shift More School Spending to State

Events

Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Families & the Community Webinar
How Whole-Child Student Data Can Strengthen Family Connections
Learn how district leaders can use these actionable strategies to increase family engagement in their student’s education and boost their academic achievement.
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
The School to Workforce Gap: How Are Schools Setting Students Up For Life & Lifestyle Success?
Hear from education and business leaders on how schools are preparing students for their leap into the workforce.
Content provided by Find Your Grind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Fed's Education Research Board Is Back. Here's Why That Matters
Defunct for years, the National Board for Education Sciences has new members and new priorities.
2 min read
Image of a conference table.
vasabii/iStock/Getty
Federal Opinion NAEP Needs to Be Kept at Arm’s Length From Politics
It’s in all our interests to ensure NAEP releases are buffered from political considerations and walled off from political appointees.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Feds Emphasize Legal Protections for Pregnant or Recently Pregnant Students, Employees
The U.S. Department of Education has released a new resource summary related to pregnancy discrimination in schools.
2 min read
Young girl checking her pregnancy test, sitting on beige couch at home.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Federal Conservatives Hammer on Hot-Button K-12 Education Issues at Federalist Society Event
The influential legal group discussed critical race theory, gender identity, and Title IX.
6 min read
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at the Phoenix International Academy in Phoenix on Oct. 15, 2020.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was among a phalanx of conservatives addressing K-12 issues at a conference of the Federalist Society.
Matt York/AP