Week in Review: March 28, 2014

No Bonding Bill yet

The Senate Capital Investment committee is not scheduled to meet until April 8 and 9, when they will discuss transportation, Department of Human Resources and Department of Corrections bonding priorities. The Governor?Äôs proposal spends $990 million and The House proposal spends $1.340 billion. Sen. Stumpf, Chair of the Capital Investment Committee hasn?Äôt introduced a bill yet.

Gov. Dayton and legislative leaders have informally agreed to keep this year?Äôs bonding bill in the range of $850 million.

Minimum Wage in the Constitution?

Last Friday the Jobs, Ag and Rural Development Committee heard a bill that would allow for a constitutional question on November?Äôs ballot. The question would ask voters if they would support a minimum wage of $10 by Jan. 1, 2015, indexed with inflation each year. The bill had broad bipartisan opposition from testimony in Committee but passed on a party-line vote, and was re-referred to the Rules Committee. The House has indicated that they have no intention of taking up this bill.

March 28 Update

Legislative Updates

I?Äôd like to keep you informed of the most recent updates in the legislative session that started in late February. Last week marked the first deadlines for all bills that are expected to move forward with their respective committees in either the House or Senate. Bills that haven?Äôt been heard yet have a much harder time moving forward. This is also a critical time in the legislative process where we learn more about priorities as the focus is turned toward budgets and the cost of implementing new bills.

The House and Senate recently passed the Senate tax bill, which includes the Local Optional Revenue (LOR), formerly known as Location Equity Revenue (LER) and was signed by Governor Dayton earlier in the week. This new bill provides local school boards with the authority to levy up to $424 per pupil unit as early as 2016. The estimated cost to Minnesota would be 47 million, and the projected revenues to pay for the bill would be 22 million in state aid and another 25 million in levy. At this point, the EV-W school district has an $820 per-pupil levy in place through 2017. I?Äôll be digging into the details of LOR to determine any advantages or disadvantages for the school district and its residents.

Tidbits for March 2014

From Senior Dining

There was a lot of scurrying around at the dining site as a committee made up of diners and myself made plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Senior Dining in Kimball. Our site is the only original site in Central Minnesota still open.

Many hours were spent reading and/or looking through the scrapbooks that had been kept from the beginning. Upon learning what was served for the first meal and what the suggested contribution was, I thought it would be neat if we could repeat both. I mentioned it to my supervisor, Shari Grebinoski. Following procedure, I put in a special request and was thrilled when it was approved. Therefore, the diners were served spareribs (boneless, mind you), mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, fruit cocktail, and Jell-O cubes with whipped cream. Only compliments were heard and guess what they?Äôd like to have on the menu again?

Chicken Soup book includes stories by columnist, Jill Pertler

Moms are the busiest people in the world. They juggle kids, husbands, home and office (and occasionally a ball or two). The well-loved Chicken Soup for the Soul books is celebrating the multi-
talents of moms everywhere with a new book titled, Chicken Soup for the Soul: the Multitasking Mom?Äôs Survival Guide. (Available beginning March 18.)

Syndicated columnist and multitasker, Jill Pertler, has two stories published in this new collection of 101 inspiring and amusing stories for mothers who do it all. Pertler?Äôs story, ?ÄúA Mom?Äôs Talents Run Deep,?Äù takes a lighthearted look at the superpowers many mothers possess, while the topic matter of her second story, ?ÄúToilet Talk,?Äù is self-explanatory.

March 21 Update

Skills for Success

I recently read an article from our service cooperative that focused on the development of critical skills necessary for future success. It?Äôs hard to believe, but our students will one day have jobs that currently don?Äôt exist. The research is pretty clear about what students will need to know and do in the future. Tony Wager, an international best-selling author, interviewed hundreds of business leaders and conducted numerous school visits across the county to determine the ?ÄúSeven Survival Skills for Careers, College and Citizenship.?Äù For in-depth information about the Seven Skills and Tony?Äôs research, visit his webpage at www.tonywager.com. The educational programs and co-curricular activities at EV-W are committed to providing opportunities for students to grow, explore, create, and pursue their dreams into the future, but we also want them to learn and practice the necessary skills they will need for a successful life. Those skills are very similar to those that Tony Wagner identified through his research. The list includes:

Words gone wrong

I found myself humming a tune I?Äôd heard on the radio, ?ÄúI came in like a rainbow?Ķ. La la la de da?Ķ.?Äù Like many songs, most of the words eluded me, but I sang the ones I knew for sure. Over and over ?Äì the rainbow. I came in like a rainbow. Yes I did.

And then there was all the hoopla about the Grammys and I got a visual snippit of the song?Äôs video on the news and realized my rainbow was none other than everyone else?Äôs wrecking ball. Just imagine. Let?Äôs just say knowing the correct words to the pop tune gave it a whole new meaning.

March 14 Update

Legislative Update

Despite a significant budget surplus of just over $1.2 billion, the prospects for additional education funding this session are low. As educators, we are hopeful that our elected officials will recognize the need to pay for implementing the Minnesota mandated principal and teacher evaluations, facility improvements, and equalization aid to assure all students receive appropriate funds regardless of zip code.

Governor Dayton announced his supplemental budget plan last week and it included $3.5 million to pay for reduced price lunches. In addition, the House and Senate leaders are working to establish budget targets for the various finance committees. We?Äôll have a better idea where the spending will take place once the budget targets are established.

Week in Review: March 7, 2014

This is the second week of the legislative session and committees hit the ground running with the first committee deadline just two weeks away. Proposals are starting to emerge to deal with the $1.2 billion surplus with growing support to repeal controversial business-to-business taxes passed last year. Other big issues expected to be a focal point include tax conformity, bonding, a minimum wage increase, transportation funding, funding increases for our caregivers, issues with MNsure, a new Senate Office Building and the controversial Safe and Supportive Schools Act.

February forecast

Last week, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released the updated February forecast showing a budget surplus of $1.233 billion for the remainder of the biennium. Since November, revenues have increased by $366 million and spending projections have decreased by $48 million. Higher income and sales estimates account for almost all of the gain. Growth in Minnesota employment and income adds to the forecast revenue.

March 7 Update

Legislative Update

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, Minnesota?Äôs 2014 Legislative Session convened in St. Paul and lawmakers came together to work on a number of issues. A few of the bigger topics the House and Senate will tackle this year include the Bonding bill, tax reform, Safe and Supportive Schools Act, and an increase in the minimum wage.

Lawmakers are optimistic and looking for a speedy session since the release of the most recent economic forecast. The Minnesota Management and Budget office announced an even larger surplus than was expected in December. The latest numbers indicate a positive balance of $1.233 billion for the fiscal years 2014-2015. With increased revenue projections and decreasing spending projections, the February Forecast improved by $408 million from the last forecast.

Gov. Mark Dayton and leaders of the House and Senate DFL majorities have outlined their budget priorities, but they still have to come to consensus before anything gets approved.  Some of the priorities include the repeal of the (B2B) business to business tax increases passed last year, providing middle-income tax relief, and building the state?Äôs reserve accounts.

Things we should do more often

Live. Love. Laugh. Stop and smell the roses. See the glass as half full. Shoot for the moon. There are the familiar (clich?©) activities we know we should engage in more often. But, for those of us not wanting to be clich?©, there are others. Everyday things that can become elevated by how we approach…