End of Special Session Update

Today, the families of 40,000 Minnesota children under age five cannot afford quality early care and education. Thanks to bipartisan compromise and the leadership of our governor and legislative leaders, thousands of Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children may now have access to early childhood programs.

The MinneMinds Coalition would like to thank Governor Dayton, House Speaker Daudt and  Senate Majority Leader Gazelka, for their leadership and advocacy for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. We also want to give a special recognition and thanks to Education Finance Committee Chairs Sen. Carla Nelson and Rep. Jennifer Loon for their hard work and strong commitment on behalf of children. We know this work has been especially challenging during this year’s budget negotiations.

Governor Mark Dayton and the legislature reached a historic agreement two years ago that allocated an additional $100 million for the biennium to fund early childhood education. History would be made again this session with close $100 Million in new money allocated in the next biennium to early childhood programs. That investment aligns closely with our coalition’s 2017 legislative agenda.

This increase in resources for our youngest would include over $20 million for early childhood scholarships and $50 million for School Readiness Plus. In addition to the increases in investments in education, the Health and Human Services bill would add $12 million for evidence based targeted home visiting for the next biennium and $33 Million for the following biennium. We thank Health and Human Services Chair Michelle Benson and Rep Ron Kresha for their leadership on helping increase access to targeted home visiting.

In addition, state leaders agreed to family friendly changes with more than $19 million in investment to make the Child Care Assistance Program work better and conform with federal standards. The Child and Dependent Care Credit would be expanded and increased, which means many more low- and middle-income families would be able to access the credit.

Close to $3 million in new money would be allocated for Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE), $ 2.6 million to Reading Corp, $1 Million for Foster Kids Educational Stability, and $1.1 Million for the Parent-Child Home Program. Total funding for these programs would represent an increase of close to 25% from their projected budget for the biennium. We thank our state’s leaders for putting the needs of children first, by reaching a bipartisan compromise.

Because of this compromise, over 4,000 children would now have access to early childhood programs. The budget agreement would lead towards an increase in quality and better parent engagement. Early childhood care and education would move towards a more flexible, mixed delivery model that meets both community and family needs, while targeting resources to the children that need them the most.

We are particularly grateful for the bill’s prioritization of scholarships to children from birth to 5 that are homeless, in foster care, or in need of child protective services, or have a parent under age 21 who is pursuing a high school diploma or a high school equivalency test.

Minnesota currently has one of the worst education opportunity gaps in our nation. The good news is that we know how to substantially reduce the opportunity gap by investing in quality early childhood care and education. Extensive research indicates that use of public dollars for quality early childhood programs yields one of the highest returns on investment. There is much more to do next session to dramatically increase access to the families that can’t currently afford quality, all day, year round, parent directed quality early care and education. However, this past session has seen a substantial move in the right direction.

We hope that this bipartisan leadership will continue into the next year. Our youngest and most vulnerable are facing many challenges, and we must act boldly when we see an opportunity for consensus.

Special Session Update #2 from MinneMinds

The legislature is making progress at the capitol the Capitol. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the loop. Below, we provide…

  • An Update from the Capitol
  • In The News: Special Session Continues Thursday
  • In The News: Exhausted legislature Takes a Night Off, as Budget Remains Unfinished
  • In The News: Guest Opinion: Closing state opportunity gaps requires more resources for children

Update from the Capitol: Special Session Continues

The house and senate continue to meet in special session today. Leadership is hoping to wrap up session tonight, but we’ve heard that before, so it’s not over ’til its over. Final versions of the Education and HHS bills are yet to be voted on. There are positive developments for early childhood care and education, if the deal between the governor and legislative leaders holds up. There could still be changes before the special session adjourns. Of course, nothing is final until the governor has signed. We will provide updates as information becomes available. Here is a summary of the slow-moving progress made Wednesday:

Senate

  • Passed the tax bill
  • Passed the stand-alone pre-emption bill
  • Debated the education bill but did not take action

House

  • Passed the tax bill
  • Passed the education bill
  • Passed the transportation bill

The articles below provide a more detailed explanation of today and yesterday’s events.

In The News: Special Session Continues Thursday

May 25, 2017 12:31 PM, via KSTP

“Republican Legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton are searching for a way out of an impasse, after their plan for a brief special session went off the rails with plenty of work yet to be done on massive $46 billion budget.

The two sides agreed in principle late Monday on a special session with a self-imposed deadline of 7 a.m. Wednesday, but the deadline came and went.

And the special session will continue on Thursday. Both the Senate and House recessed for the day Wednesday night. Both bodies are in recess until noon Thursday.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt said they will come back and try to finish remaining bills in marathon session.”

View, Share, and Comment: TwitterFacebookKSTP

 

In The News: Exhausted Legislature Takes a Night Off, as Budget Remains Unfinished

By RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER and DAVID MONTGOMERY Last Update: 05/25/17 at 10:31 am., via Pioneer Press

“Exhausted and frustrated, Minnesota lawmakers are taking a full night’s break before they finish passing a $46 billion state budget.

The Legislature was only supposed to meet overnight Tuesday, after it missed its midnight Monday deadline. But it took longer than expected for DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders to agree on the final details of the remaining budget bills — then still more time for staff to put the bills into final form.”

View, Share, and Comment: TwitterFacebookPioneer Press
In The News: Guest Opinion: Closing state opportunity gaps requires more resources for children

By Leslie Bouchonville and Betty Doss, via Brainerd Dispatch (05/18), and Echo Journal (05/19).

“Minnesota’s opportunity gap is the worst in the nation. Quality home visiting programs and early education are proven to be among the best ways to support strong early development.

As the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Paul Gazelka has a unique role to play in eliminating the opportunity gap for families and their children. He should join Rep. Ron Kresha in leading targeted home visiting and early learning scholarships, which are proven methods to close the opportunity gap for our community’s most vulnerable children.”

View, Share, and Comment: Twitter – Facebook – Echo Journal

Special Session Update from Minneminds

Things are moving quickly at the Capitol. There will be additional updates as things progress, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the loop. Below, we provide…

  • An Update from the Capitol
  • Some Recent News: “Legislature gets budget deal — but will need an overtime special session” (Excerpt) via Pioneer Press
  • A Review of Regular Session: What has — and hasn’t — been been passed
    • Bills that have passed and await signing
    • Issues not yet resolved
    • Other key issues
    • Upcoming Advisory Committee Meetings

Update from the Capitol: Special Session Announced

At 11:18 p.m. on May 22, Speaker Daudt announced a special session to start at 12:01 a.m. on May 23 that will go until 7 a.m. on May 24. Speaker Daudt announced the new tax target is $660 million. The transportation target is $300 million, which includes $70 million for transit. The education target is $477 million, which includes $50 million for a “school readiness plus” program. The bonding bill target is approximately $990 million. The legislature will send the Governor a preemption bill, but not as part of an omnibus budget bill. The Governor said he will not sign the preemption bill.

The MinneMinds coalition is currently working to gain insight on proposed allocations for Early Childhood Educations, and will update our membership as soon as information becomes available.

In The News: Legislature gets budget deal — but will need an overtime special session
Updated 05/23/2017, 7:47 a.m. By David Montgomery, via Pioneer Press

“Minnesota legislators blasted past their midnight deadline Monday to get their work done — but will come back immediately to finish the job.

Forty-five minutes before their constitutionally mandated end of this year’s five-month legislative session, Republican legislative leaders joined with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton to announce they had reached a deal on how much money to spend on tax cuts, transportation, health and human services and public schools.

“I’m grateful that we have a deal,” said a smiling but weary Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.”

View on Pioneer Press

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Review of Regular Session: What has — and hasn’t — been passed

This year of the biennium is focused on crafting the State’s $46 billion budget. Currently, Minnesota has a budget surplus of $1.5 billion. Below is summary of where things stand at the end of the regular 2017 legislative session and an update on the recently announced special session.

The following budget bills have passed both the House and the Senate and await action by Governor Dayton:

  • Agriculture omnibus – HF 1545
  • Environment and Natural Resources omnibus – SF 844
  • Higher Education omnibus – SF 943
  • Jobs and Economic Growth omnibus – SF 1456
  • Judiciary and Public Safety omnibus – HF 470
  • LCCMR omnibus – SF 550
  • Legacy omnibus – HF 707
  • Pensions omnibus – SF 545

The following issues are yet to be resolved:

Education

  • Early childhood education was a major sticking point in negotiations. The Governor wanted to expand the voluntary prekindergarten program while legislators wanted to increase early learning scholarships.
    The Governor wanted a general education funding formula of 2%. The Legislature funding a formula increase of 1.5%.
  • Additionally, the Governor vetoed a separate teacher licensure reform bill.

Health and Human Services

  • The future of the healthcare access fund was a major point of contention between the Governor and the Legislature.
    Legislators focused on regulating opioid prescriptions and addiction treatment.
    Bonding
  • During the 2016 legislative session, a bonding bill failed in the Senate in the final minutes of the session.
  • Last week, the House failed to pass an $800 million bonding bill with the required two-thirds majority.

State Government

  • DFL legislators objected to the ten percent administrative cuts to state agencies.
    Taxes
  • The GOP Legislature’s top priority for this session was tax relief.
  • Last session, the Governor did not sign the tax bill due to a one-word error.

Transportation

  • The Legislature has not passed a transportation bill since 2013.
  • The Legislature and the Governor remained divided on funding streams and the priorities of modes of transportation.

Other Key Issues This Session:

Internet Privacy

  • Language to prevent internet service providers from selling information on customers’ browser history was not included in any budget bills despite receiving a yes vote from 200 of the 201 legislators.

Private School Tax Credits/Vouchers

  • A provision included in the tax bill vetoed by the Governor would have allowed families to use tax credits for private school tuition.
  • This provision was removed during budget negotiations after the veto at the request of the Governor.

Real ID

  • Minnesota passed a REAL ID bill which will bring Minnesota in compliance with federal security standards.
  • This bill contains no provisions on driver’s licenses for undocumented Minnesotans. This provision had prevented the bill from passing in past legislative sessions.

Reinsurance

  • Earlier in the session, the Governor signed a bill to allocate $542 million to insurance companies to stabilize the health care market in Minnesota.

Sunday Sales

  • Earlier this session, the Legislature passed a bill to allow alcohol to be purchased from liquor stores on Sunday. This was signed by the Governor. This law will go into effect on July 1, 2017.

Uniform Labor Standards or Preemption

  • This would have prevented municipalities from enacting separate labor standards like a local minimum wage or earned sick/safe time ordinances. It was not included in any final bills.

 

MinneMinds Coalition Letter to Governor Mark Dayton

May 17, 2017

Governor Dayton:

The MinneMinds Coalition thanks you for advocating for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. We know this work has been especially challenging with this year’s budget negotiations. As you know, we must take action to address Minnesota’s worst-in-the-nation opportunity gap. To close this gap, we need investment in early care and education from birth to 5 years old. This legislative session, we have a unique opportunity for bipartisan compromise to support initiatives that will significantly reduce the opportunity gap, create job growth, and contribute to the economic vitality of our state for years to come.

We would like to highlight a few items that we strongly support from the Education omnibus bill, along with changes that we believe would improve the bill. We hope you will consider these elements as you continue negotiating with legislators.

  • We appreciate your support for expanding eligibility for scholarships to children from birth to 2 with the greatest need. Research shows that early investments are most effective and provide the highest return on investment.
  • We need a substantial increase in funding for early childhood scholarships. As you know, close to 40,000 children do not have access to much-needed quality early childhood care and education. We ask you to significantly increase this investment to serve more of our most vulnerable children. We support language that prioritizes scholarship applications for children that have experienced homelessness, are in foster care or in need of protective services, in addition to the children of teen parents. Nearly 2,300 of our state’s children under age 3 currently live in these circumstances and in need of full day, year round early care and education. This assures that we are first serving the children with the greatest need.
  • We share your concern about the possible elimination of Pathway 2 scholarships. We support making improvements to this program, but believe these scholarships are an important option for eligible children and families. Pathway 2 scholarships enable high-quality rated, mixed delivery programs across the state to provide effective early care and education that meets local needs.
  • We urge you to increase access to flexible voluntary targeted home visiting. These programs provide community-led solutions that stabilize two generations of Minnesotans. Targeted home visiting empowers at-risk parents with parenting and family support tools to become self-sustaining, healthy families.
  • We support your efforts to increase funding for the Child Care Assistance (CCAP) program and support improvements that will allow families to access and maintain affordable, stable childcare, and conform to federal requirements.
  • We support a mixed delivery system in early childhood programs building a strong, integrated system that provides flexibility to meet both community and family needs.

Again, we thank you for your commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children, and for your efforts to eliminate Minnesota’s unacceptable opportunity gap. We hope you can find ways to incorporate our concerns so that thousands of Minnesota’s children can have access to quality, year-round, all-day early childhood care and education.

Sincerely,

Frank Forsberg Chair, MinneMinds Coalition

Senior Vice President, Greater Twin Cities United Way

Letter to Health and Human Services Conference Committee Members

Dear Health and Human Services Conference Committee Members:

The MinneMinds Coalition would like to thank members of the House and Senate for advocating for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. We also thank Chairs Dean and Benson for their tireless and thoughtful leadership on behalf of children. We know this work has been especially challenging with this year’s budget targets.

We would like to highlight items that we strongly support from the House and Senate Omnibus bills:

● We urge the committee to increase access to targeted home visiting. These programs provide community-led solutions that stabilize two generations of Minnesotans. Voluntary targeted home visiting empowers at-risk parents with parenting and family support tools to become self-sustaining, healthy families.

● The House has taken the first step in providing additional funding for the Child Care Assistance (CCAP) Program. Please support the House position and build on it by funding CCAP program improvements that will allow families to access and maintain affordable, stable child care, and conform to federal requirements.

We thank you again for your commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children and for working to eliminate Minnesota’s unacceptable opportunity gap. We hope you can find ways to incorporate our concerns so that thousands of Minnesota’s children can have access to quality year-round, all-day early childhood care and education.

Sincerely,

Frank Forsberg

Chair, MinneMinds Coalition

Senior Vice President, Greater Twin Cities United Way

Letter to Education Conference Committee Members

Dear Education Conference Committee Members:

The MinneMinds Coalition would like to thank members of the House and Senate for advocating for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. We also thank Education Finance Committee Chairs Nelson and Loon for their leadership on behalf of children. We know this work has been especially challenging with this year’s budget targets.

We must take action to address Minnesota’s worst-in-the-nation opportunity gap. To close this gap, we need investment in early care and education from birth to 5 years old. This legislative session, we have a unique opportunity for bipartisan compromise to support initiatives that will significantly reduce the opportunity gap, create job growth, and contribute to the economic vitality of our state for years to come.

We would like to highlight a few items that we strongly support from the House and Senate omnibus bills; along with changes that we believe would improve the bills:

● We appreciate the support for continued funding for early childhood scholarships. Increased access to scholarships is essential to closing the opportunity gap. We thank you for expanding eligibility for scholarships to children from birth to 2 with the greatest need. Research shows that early investments are most effective and provide the highest return on investment.

● We appreciate the increase in funding for early childhood scholarships. As you know, close to 40,000 children do not have access to much-needed quality early childhood care and education. We ask you to significantly increase this investment to serve more of our most vulnerable children.

● We also urge the conference committee to increase access to flexible voluntary targeted home visiting. Theseprograms provide community-led solutions that stabilize two generations of Minnesotans. Targeted home visiting empowers at-risk parents with parenting and family support tools to become self-sustaining, healthy families.

● We support the language that prioritizes scholarship applications for children that have experienced homelessness in the past 24 months or are in foster care or in need of protective services, in addition to the children of teen parents. This assures that we are first serving the children with the greatest need.

● We are concerned about the possible elimination of Pathway 2 scholarships. We support making improvements to this program, but believe these scholarships are an important option for eligible children and families. Pathway 2 scholarships enable high-quality rated, mixed delivery programs across the state to provide effective early care and education that meets local needs.

We thank you again for your commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children, and for working to eliminate Minnesota’s unacceptable opportunity gap. We hope you can find ways to incorporate our concerns so that thousands of Minnesota’s children can have access to quality, year-round, all-day early childhood care and education.

Sincerely,

Frank Forsberg

Chair, MinneMinds Coalition

Senior Vice President, Greater Twin Cities United Way

Letter to the Minnesota Senate

Chair Nelson and Members of the Senate,

The MinneMinds Coalition would like to thank Senate Members for their tireless and thoughtful work in advocating for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. This work is essential to eliminate Minnesota’s opportunity gap, which is the worst in the nation. We thank Chair Nelson for her efforts on behalf of children. We know this work has been especially challenging with this year’s budget targets.

We want to highlight a few items that we strongly support in the Senate File 718, and provisions that we urge Members to include or change:

• We appreciate the support in this bill for early childhood scholarships. We thank you for expanding eligibility for scholarships from just 3 and 4 year olds to all children under age 5. Human and brain development begins before birth, and continues at an incredible pace through the early years of life.

• We appreciate the increase in funding for early childhood scholarships. As you know, currently over 80% of low income children, or close to 40,000 children, do not have access to much needed scholarships. We ask you to significantly increase this investment to serve more of our most vulnerable children.

• We thank you for funding the Parent Child Home Program and for the Home Visiting aid. The MinneMinds Coalition supports home visiting, but would like to see that flexible targeted home visiting get funded.

• We support the language in SF 718 that prioritizes scholarship applications for children that have experienced homelessness in the past 24 months or are in foster care or in need of protective services, in addition to the children of teen parents. This assures that we are first serving the children with the greatest need.

We thank you again for your commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children and for working to eliminate Minnesota’s unacceptable opportunity gap. We hope you can find ways to incorporate our concerns so that thousands of Minnesota’s children can have access to quality year-round, all-day early childhood care and education.

Sincerely,

Frank Forsberg

Chair, MinneMinds Coalition

Senior Vice President, Greater Twin Cities United Way

Letter to the Minnesota House of Representatives

Chair Loon and Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives,

The MinneMinds Coalition would like to thank House Members for their tireless and thoughtful work in advocating for Minnesota’s youngest and most vulnerable children. This work is essential to eliminate Minnesota’s opportunity gap, which is the worst in the nation. We thank Chair Loon and Representative Kresha for their efforts on behalf of children. We know this work has been especially challenging with this year’s budget targets.

We want to highlight a few items that we strongly support in the House File 890, and provisions that we urge Members to include or change:

• We appreciate the support in this bill for early childhood scholarships. We urge Members expand eligibility for scholarships for children from birth to age 5. Human and brain development begins before birth, and continues at an incredible pace through the early years of life.

• We are concerned about the elimination of Pathway 2 scholarships. We support making improvements to this program, but believe these scholarships are an important option for eligible children and families. Pathway 2 scholarships enable high quality rated and mixed delivery programs across the state to provide effective early care and education that meets local needs.

• We appreciate the increase in funding for early childhood scholarships. As you know, currently over 80% of low income children, or close to 40,000 children, do not have access to much needed scholarships. We ask you to increase this investment to serve more of our most vulnerable children.

• We thank you for funding the Parent Child Home Program and for the Home Visiting aid. The MinneMinds Coalition supports home visiting, but would like to see that flexible targeted home visiting get funded.

• We support the new funding for Parent Aware, but this may not be sufficient funding to support the backbone of the scholarship model – the quality ratings system – even with federal funding. We prefer the language in the MinneMinds bill.

• We support the language in House File 890 that gives prioritization to scholarship applications for:

  1. Children with a parent under age 21 who is pursuing a high school diploma or a course of study for a high school equivalency test,
  2. Children that are in foster care or otherwise in need of protection or services
  3. Children that have experienced homelessness in the last 24 months

We thank you again for your commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children and for working to eliminate Minnesota’s unacceptable opportunity gap. We hope you can find ways to incorporate our concerns so that thousands of Minnesota’s children can have access to quality year-round, all-day early childhood care and education.

Sincerely,

Frank Forsberg

Chair, MinneMinds Coalition

Senior Vice President, Greater Twin Cities United Way

State Money Awarded to Organizations to Help with Daycare Shortage in Greater Minnesota

March 19, 2017 11:09 PM

Some type of child care arrangements are used by 600,000 families in Minnesota.

In some part of the state, there are three times as many children as daycares, including outside the seven-county metro area. The Minnesota Department of Human Services reports from 2005-2015, the number of licensed in-home providers dropped 27 percent.

Jim Koppel works for DHS and said more daycare providers have been leaving the business than joining it because of “retirements, long hours, low pay and regulation.”

Balaton is a small town three hours southwest of the Twin Cities. It’s a farming community hit hard by the lack of options according to Erin Hall. The mother of three works full-time and said, “There’s not enough to go around. None of my kids have gone to the same daycare.”

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Boosting economy from infancy

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Imagine this scenario: a variety of “teams” aggressively competing to recruit hot prospects barely out of diapers.

Sounds like a kiddie NFL football draft. It’s not. It’s roughly my take of Arthur Rolnick’s designs on how best to invest in and develop Minnesota’s and America’s future work force.

“I believe your vision of it is correct,” Rolnick said as he took a phone break last week from a federal open market committee meeting in Washington.

Deciding federal interest rates is part of what Rolnick does for a living as senior vice president and director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Some of his research involves a study of pre-Civil War banking.

But it’s what he came up with four years ago and last year that just might leave an indelible mark on society.

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