From: Jeremy Miller
There was recently a letter to the editor from Jerome Kulas questioning PreK-12 education funding and the budget status in the State of Minnesota. I want to thank Mr. Kulas for his interest in these important issues.
Before I was elected two years ago, the state owed our schools $1.4 billion as a result of the 2010 school shift. In addition, the November 2010 budget forecast released by Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), the state’s non-partisan fiscal agent, showed the state had a projected budget deficit of $6.2 billion and the state’s cash flow and budget reserve accounts were empty.
After the February 2012 budget forecast was released by MMB, the state was $1.2 billion ahead of budget for the current biennium. In the situation of a budget surplus, state law requires MMB to first fill the cash flow and budget reserve accounts and then begin to pay back the school shift. As a result of this surplus, the cash flow and budget reserve accounts are now full and the state has started to pay back the money owed to our schools.
The October 2012 budget update was recently released by MMB and showed the state $445 million ahead of the February 2012 forecast, which means Minnesota is now over $1.6 billion ahead of budget for the current biennium.
This budget surplus is the result of being fiscally responsible, growing jobs, promoting economic development, and investing in reforms that are making state government more effective and efficient.
Even during the unprecedented budget deficit that the legislature and governor faced in 2011, we were able to increase, not cut, base funding to PreK-12 education. We also increased funding to many rural nursing homes and to the direct-to-homeowner property tax refund program.
In addition, we passed a bi-partisan education reform called literacy incentive aid. Beginning this school year, districts are eligible for additional aid based on how well students in the third grade are reading and how much progress they make in their reading skills between grades three and four. The $48 million per year of additional aid will be distributed based on the results of statewide reading tests.
My philosophy is simple, listen to the people and work together with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take action, get results and make a difference.
As a result, we’ve been able to accomplish several great things for Southeastern Minnesota.