May 15, 2017

Gov. Dayton Vetoed the Education Funding Bill. Now What?

By Daniel Sellers

On Friday, Gov. Dayton vetoed HF890, the omnibus E-12 education appropriations bill. While this bill got a lot right for Minnesota students, we know that it can be even stronger. In particular, as the Governor and Legislature come back to the table and enter into a new round of negotiations, we’re calling for more—and more targeted—funding for public education, as well as common sense policy changes that will benefit the state’s most underserved children.

Below are just some of our reactions to the Governor’s veto letter, as well as our aligned recommendations for state leaders in the final week of session.

Funding formula

While we generally believe that school funding should be more equitable, so that schools and students get what they need, we also know that a basic funding formula increase is critical to all schools. That’s why we agree with Gov. Dayton that the Legislature should propose at least a 2-percent increase in the basic per pupil formula by increasing the amount dedicated to our overall education budget.

Early learning

We applaud the Governor’s commitment to and call for greater investments in early learning. However, we believe that the best way to reach our shared vision of a Minnesota where all young children have access to high-quality programming is to first target kids with the greatest need. The state’s early learning scholarship model, which has had bipartisan support for years, is built on research and best practices, and assures that children from low-income families are first in line for high-quality programming. As the Legislature and Governor work to reach an agreement this session, we ask that they prioritize investments in early learning scholarships—an equitable, logical, and compassionate, approach to strengthening opportunities and outcomes for our state’s youngest learners, starting with the estimated 40,000 who are low-income.

Teacher retention

In line with Minnesotan public opinion and a growing body of research, the Legislature has advanced a policy that would empower schools to develop a locally controlled process—that could include teacher effectiveness and shortages—to retain their best teachers during layoffs. But in his veto letter, Gov. Dayton asked that the Legislature remove this policy proposal and instead maintain the state’s archaic default policy that schools retain teachers based solely on seniority. This policy routinely removes less experienced yet highly effective teachers, as well as educators of color who, on average, have less seniority than their white peers. It also disproportionately impacts our most underserved students, who are more likely to have less experienced educators. All together, this default policy comes at the detriment of kids, who benefit greatly from effective and diverse educators. We stand with the overwhelming majority of Minnesotans, including public school teachers, who would like to see teacher retention policies that place teacher effectiveness and student progress ahead of seniority. It is time that the state place districts and unions at the helm of their school personnel decisions, allowing for teacher retention policies that put students first.

Although the Governor’s veto of the bill was predictable, what’s hard to predict is exactly how he and the Legislature will reach an agreement in the coming weeks. We hope you’ll continue to stay engaged in the process and take action on key issues!