Saturday, June 13, 2015

MN Legislative Session is Over

Well it is finally over.  It must have been successful...  Everyone seems unhappy... Thoughts?

MinnPost The Session Ends
MinnPost What did Dayton get out of it?

35 comments:

jerrye92002 said...

Interesting that this is seen as an entirely political concern for what the DFL governor "won" or "lost." As usual, no consideration what-so-ever on what the best thing to do was. It still seems to me that if you raise taxes $2 billion one year, and have a $2 billion surplus the following year, Job 1 is to give the money back. After that, if roads and bridges are your #1 priority, then find the money to do roads and bridges and quit muddying the waters with talk of "transportation."

John said...

I agree... Here is one of the comments I left. To which I got no response.

"Good summary, though I am curious what the GOP gave up and gained during these last minute negotiations.

I mean as you said, "increase K-12 funding over the bill he originally vetoed by $125 million".

Which means that Ed MN and the establishment gets the money and us tax payers will not receive back $125,000,000.

Anything else the tax payers lost in these dealings? Did any language that holds Ed MN and the establishment accountable for improving performance with that $125,000,000 make it into law? Anything that increases funding for charters to anywhere near what the status quo publics get? Anything for the unlucky kids, or did we just give the same questionable system more money for doing things the same way?" G2A

Laurie said...

There was never a $2 billion surplus, as the spendng side of the budget didn't include increased costs. I think higher ed (as in the U of MN) should have gotten more money. I think next year people have a greater preference for transportation spending than tax cuts when they decide how much to spend on each with the $1 billion that remains. I think the union hating GOP should be a stronger advocate for charter schools.

jerrye92002 said...

As I understand it:
--"inflation" does not account for the 8+% spending increase in this budget, nor the 8% annual increase EVERY year for the last 20. State government is on a spending binge, and the GOP hasn't checked it by very much.
-- That said, an additional $125M out of some $15B for K-12 is what? 0.1%, on top of the roughly 1.8% already agreed to by the Legislature. The schools were asking for 2%, and it is hard to deny them that. What Dayton "won" was essentially nothing, is the point.
-- The GOP IS a strong advocate of charter schools and school choice, while the DFL is in the pocket of the unions and they hold the Senate and Governor's office.
-- The "unlucky kids" get a big bump in funding for the pre-K education program currently doing well by those kids.
-- Transportation funding is best zeroed out until we can convince the DFL to talk about "roads and bridges" instead. Then, funding them is a matter not of raising taxes, but reminding everybody that the gas tax was raised a few years ago and that was going to fix "roads and bridges" for all time and that all that is needed is to set priorities on spending to get the potholes fixed.
-- Every time the State increases tuition subsidies, it seems like, the U turns around and raises tuition, and that adds another "diversity coordinator" or somesuch worthless administrator. Time to make them accountable for the money they spend for the education they deliver, just like we should do with the K-12.

Sean said...

The policy outcomes are relatively mild, other than in the ag/environment bill. What it really demonstrates is how the process is broken. We have 201 state legislators, almost all of whom are put on the sidelines while a handful of folks make the deal at the end of the session. In the back room with no transparency, no less. Reforms are needed, and here are a few that would be a good start:

End This Charade

John said...

Some aligned thoughts from MP.

"John, I don't know what DFLer's will do in down times, but I DO know what you GOPer's will do under those circumstances. It was called the T-Paw Years and it was a miserable failure. So, whatever the DFL chooses to do, it can't be any worse." Jackson

"Take a look at the table entitled "Historical General Fund Spending". Please note the much higher than inflation typical increases. Inflation is running ~5% for 2 years, and government is growing at about twice that rate... This can not end well. (the 2010-11 anomoly had to do with temporary Fed stimulus money in earlier years.)

Three Minute Budget

Now instead of raising taxes Pawlenty and crew used the schools to borrow during the recession with the plan that the debts would be paid in full after the recession. (as they were) Use rainy day and debt tools to stabilize government funding during economic swings.

So what was terrible about what they did?" G2A

Sean said...

First off, it should be pointed out that Pawlenty's budget-balancing maneuvers -- his unallotments -- were illegal.

Beyond that, though, borrowing from the schools is poor public policy. It forced hundreds of districts to take out loans to cover the payment shift. If you want school districts to budget responsibly, you need to give them some reasonable amount of stability instead of taking away their funds and giving them on an uncertain payback schedule.

jerrye92002 said...

Sean, I agree reform of the process is needed, and that it is politically unlikely, divided government or no. Well, maybe if we had the GOP completely in control, they could get together and go to "zero-based budgeting" which would resolve a lot of the problems because the budget would flow from the financial requirements of each department and the policy decisions therein. Each would then pass individually, once they were all added up to see if we had the money or not. Those days of double-digit increases every two years would likely stop, and the budget bills would become a BETTER vehicle for policy decisions. Each could then be debated at length on its merits, in public and in "regular order" through the legislature. The final result would be a long series of bills, whatever passed after all debate and amendment, hopefully in time for the legislature to reconvene for a veto override rather than special session. Ah, the dream-- efficient and effective government.

Correct me if I'm wrong, though, but the latest "school shift" champ was Gov. Dayton, was it not? During negotiations, he INSISTED on a larger school shift (to cover added spending) than Republicans had proposed. Then when the GOP proposed repaying the shift early, out of a surplus, Dayton vetoed the proposal.

Sean said...

The most recent school shift was a creature of the compromise between the GOP-controlled Legislature and Gov. Dayton, that's correct. It's also true that Dayton vetoed a GOP plan to take surplus money that went to replenish the reserves (and thereby preserving the state's credit rating) and use it to pay off the shift instead. It's also true that the GOP didn't give a hearing to the DFL plan to repay the shift early.

John said...

Sean,
It was the "Great Recession", even the schools had to dig deep.

So what is your recommendation? Have the State keep vast cash reserves that some DFL politicians will continually try to raid for some new program of the day.

Personally I like it when the State keeps some cash reserves, and does some borrowing when needed. That way us citizens get to have that money in our savings accounts instead of the State having it in theirs.

Sean said...

The DFL was trying to preserve the reserves (about $400M, hardly vast), not spend it.

Actually, I think it would have been more fair in some senses to give the schools a straight cut instead of playing the shift game. That would make the choices being made crystal clear.

jerrye92002 said...

Actually, most of this is just treating the symptoms of government spending addiction. There is no reason the budget should go up by 2-3 times the rate of inflation year after year. If the State budget had only kept pace with inflation and population growth since 1965, it would today be ONE-TENTH what it actually is. If government didn't constantly find new ways to spend money, and less efficient ways to spend money, and held their departments accountable for results, these problems of surplus and deficit would be far less problematic. I look at it like our local school budget, when they asked for a levy. They wanted a levy for 10 years, assumed an annual 2% increase in state funding (reasonable), and then PLANNED for an 8% increase in annual spending such that the levy would only "last" 4 years! The State does that, too, rather than live within their means. What's the old saying, "at some point, you run out of other people's money."

John said...

Which choice was that?

The state used the District credit ratings to take out a loan, nothing more, nothing less. I think the State was good for paying them back as we have seen.

John said...

Jerry,
Where are your sources? I always enjoy that amusing 1/10th statement...

Sean said...

"The state used the District credit ratings to take out a loan, nothing more, nothing less. I think the State was good for paying them back as we have seen."

Did the state pay back the costs for districts that had to take out their own loans to cover the shortfall the state created? Nope.

jerrye92002 said...

"Where are your sources? I always enjoy that amusing 1/10th statement."

Sources: Minn. DOR, Mpls Fed Reserve, US Census, basic math and an Excel spreadsheet.

So what's amusing about the hard, cold facts?

John said...

Sean,
The state did not create the budgetary shortfall. The recession did. The state simply adjusted the available knobs to survive this temporary normal variation. Just as I would expect them to.

The liberals keep saying we should do more bonding because rates are cheap... Yet they are so concerned that schools had to take out short term loans during a massive recession. I will never understand.

Jerry,
Your simple math is funny. It does not account for population and service growth. If I find my old explanation I will link to it.

jerrye92002 said...

It specifically DOES account for population growth. And it accounts for "service growth" by showing that 90% of the increase has gone for "service growth," aka government finding clever new ways to waste your money. My simple math may be funny, but it is simple math. Simple arm-waving is not going to contradict it.

jerrye92002 said...

Interesting that the government "shortfall" during tough economic times occurs entirely because government never does what everybody else would do in such circumstances and actually reduce spending. Everybody else has to "tighten the belt" while government rolls merrily on as if they had first claim to all the money and are disappointed when they don't get it.

John said...

I love google search... If you search for "give2attain something" it is amazing how many of our past discussions are searchable.

G2A MN Spending Comments

John said...

Ok I ground the numbers... And I'll try to post the details and sources before Saturday.

In today's dollars, the "local and state government" costs per Minnesotan are.

1964: ~$3,603
2014: ~10,689

This is using an average inflation rate of 3.7% which I got from the FRED.

Therefore "local / state government" costs 3X what it did in 1964. Since much of the additional cost goes to education, special education and health/human services, are we getting 3X the value?

MN "Local and State": 2B to 57.5B

MN Population: 3413864 to 5379139

Period 50 yrs

Average Inflation 3.7%
or
Indicator: 18 to 110

1964 Cost per capita in 1964 dollars
$2 Bil/3,413,864 =
$586/person

2014 Cost per capita in 2014 dollars
$57.5 Bil/5,379,139 =
$10,689/person

1964 Cost per capita in 2014 dollars
($586/18)110=
$3,580/person

Change is cost
$10,689/$3580 = 2.99 times

jerrye92002 said...

OK, good math as far as it goes, and you say we are spending only THREE times too much, rather than 10. However, rather than an average inflation rate or population number, I took the inflation and population in every year, and multiplied by the previous year's budget. When I do that, I get the 10X result.

And to answer your question, NO. Education certainly costs more than it did then, if you want to look at it that way. My theory is that we simply SPEND more for essentially the same result.

John said...

We spend ~3 times on education because of special ed, unions, higher standards, worse parents, regulations, etc. Many reasons... That was then this is now...

John said...

I suppose I should explain "worse parents". My view is back in the 60's, if the student got in trouble or goofed off in school they would get in big trouble.

Now many Parents would blame the Teacher... And maybe sue the district.

Also, back then most students had a Mother and Father at home. Today that is not the case, especially in the urban minority communities.

In essence the school no longer just teaches, now they feed, counsel, provide security, monitor for illegal substances, etc, etc, etc.

We need more Penguins back in the classroom

jerrye92002 said...

"We spend ~3 times on education because of special ed, unions, higher standards, worse parents, regulations, etc. Many reasons... That was then this is now... "

You then go on to lay the entire blame on worse parents for the completely ineffective spending increase. For some reason, you keep attributing results to the one thing-- cultural rot created by government incentives-- that, unlike all the others and despite our best wishes to the contrary, we cannot muster the political and social will to change. And you still have not explained why a state aid formula which "fully compensates" for all of these "disadvantages" produces results that are terrible by comparison and abysmal in absolute terms. I'm wondering why you think "higher standards" cost money, when some schools cannot begin to reach even the most basic ones.

John said...


"because of special ed, unions, higher standards, worse parents, regulations, etc." G2A

"You then go on to lay the entire blame on worse parents" Jerry

Looks like I blamed 5+ things... Where did you get that I laid the "entire blame on worse parents"?

Since it is 3X's... I think Special education mandates caused half or more of the increase. The other half of the increase was probably split by the others.

Where did you get this statement? "which "fully compensates" for all of these "disadvantages" produces" I am pretty sure it did not come from Ed MN.

jerrye92002 said...

In the past you have blamed bad parenting for the entirety of the difficulty, and here it is the only one you saw a need to explain further, describing several "side effects" of that one factor. I'm glad you clarified that Sp. Ed. was 1/2 of the problem, but I've never seen any numbers that would tell me that, and I also point out this is a simple political problem, regardless of numbers. Some liberal idiot decided we could ignore the costs and create a world where handicaps didn't matter. One can be compassionate AND sensible, but that isn't the liberal way.

As you know, the state aid formula specifically includes "compensatory aid" that relies on FRL (poverty) and ESL (English speaking) numbers, as well as, I believe, racial makeup of the school. Occasionally the formula is adjusted to "compensate fully" for these factors. But it doesn't. Our entire K-12 system is designed to spend more and more for the same result, not to improve individual nor collective results.

jerrye92002 said...

In other words, "compensatory aid" should fully compensate according to the politicians and educrats. That it does not says that money is not the problem. It's a process problem.

John said...

"you have blamed bad parenting for the entirety of the difficulty"

Where do you come up with this stuff? G2A Blame vs Contributions I have a whole list of causal factors.

I do agree that I believe that poor, irresponsible, immature, and/or neglectful parenting probably accounts for ~60% of the problem. When children who were raised poorly, have poor role models, have low academic capability, have little money, have poor communication skills, etc become Parents too early... of course there are problems.

I only explained worse parents, because I think we agree on the others and the term was pretty vague.

jerrye92002 said...

We keep having the same debate, and coming, I think, to the same impasse. I claim we should make the schools work as well as they are able, which we CAN do with political will and reasonable intelligence, and hope that it eventually cures the social ills that you blame for 60% of the problem. We know it works but our "betters" in government refuse to do it. So long as we allow them to keep blaming parents for "all" or even some of it, they won't change.

John said...

"and hope that it eventually cures the social ills"

I am not much into "Hope and Change". This needs to be a 2 prong attack if we really want to fix the problem and help the unlucky kids. That is why I am so hard on the Union / School Bureaucracy and on the irresponsible and/or incapable parents.

jerrye92002 said...

OK, that smacks of a solution. The schools we know CAN change, because it happens in little "islands" all around us-- some charter schools, private schools, religious schools, home schools, even Internet schools. Many of them do very well in the shadow of some of our poorest schools. Sure, you can claim that these are the "lucky kids" whose parents care enough, but you have never explained why, when scholarships to these better schools are offered via lottery, there are 10s or even 100s of parents in the drawing for every open slot. Sure, 99 of those kids are "unlucky" but it isn't because the parents don't care, it is because you and the other defenders of the status quo refuse to give them the MEANS to make that better choice. You're condemning them for not making good choices when you haven't offered them any choice at all. Hand those 99 parents the check, and watch things change very quickly.

John said...

"you and the other defenders of the status quo"

Do you really think the Ed MN and Liberal folks see me as a "Defender of the Status Quo"?

I think they would find that amusing.

Personally I think most of the Parents of unlucky kids care, however that does not make them smarter, more financially stable, more self disciplined, more helpful, more capable, more mature, more self sacrificing, a 2 adult household, more stable, more positive thinking, etc or any of the things that it takes to be a good Parent.

John said...

Please give me a school in MN where this occurred. I want to do some research.

"there are 10s or even 100s of parents in the drawing for every open slot."

jerrye92002 said...

Oh, so two people who are self-disciplined, stable, self-sacrificing, yada yada but don't really care about their kids are good parents? We're not talking about the wisdom of Solomon here. All we're expecting is that the parent care enough to make a choice, WHEN IT IS OFFERED, between a good school for their kid or leaving them in a school that is clearly failing them. They can do that between beers.

And you're still overlooking those 99 parents who MADE the right choice, only to be denied because they didn't have the money or the lottery win to follow through. There are school lotteries in Minnesota-- Roseville and Hennepin Elementary, for example-- but they are not the high-stakes kind like HCZ. But even the modestly successful charter programs turn away far more than they accept.
http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/jerseycity/index.ssf?/base/news-7/1231745106308690.xml

How can that imbalance possibly be anything other than defending the status quo. What ACTION can we take to remedy this tragedy?