Earlier this month, the Association of Metropolitan School Districts (AMSD) presented me and a few of my colleagues with its 2017 Friend of Public Education Award at its board of directors meeting. The AMSD Friend of Public Education Award is presented annually to state policymakers who demonstrate exceptional leadership, advocacy and support of public education and issues important to AMSD member school districts.
During the 2017 legislative session, I championed, and was the chief author of legislation to address the teacher shortage and reform the teacher licensure system. I worked tirelessly as co-chair of the Legislative Study Group on Educator Licensing to address the shortcomings in Minnesota’s teacher licensing system that had been identified in a 2016 report issued by the Office of the Legislative Auditor.
In existence since 1974, AMSD represents 41 K-12 school districts, six intermediate/educational cooperative districts, three integration districts, and over half of the state’s students. As a former educator, I will continue to work to make sure every Minnesotan has access to a world-class education and this past session we took significant steps to making that a reality.
From left to right -- Sen. Eric Pratt, Rep. Sondra Erickson, Rep. Jenifer Loon, and Sen. Carla Nelson all
received recognition for their efforts to better public education.
K-12 Funding & Key Reforms
The 2017 Legislature made a significant investment into our children's future. We increased the per-pupil formula by 2%, which was requested by our school districts, and statewide our schools will see more than $1.3 billion in increased funding. We also sough to give more local control to school districts by ending the "Last In, First Out" default layoff policy so schools can keep the best teachers in the classroom.
Making this significant investment into our schools combined with real reforms to keep the best teachers in the classroom means we are one step closer to making sure every student in the state of Minnesota has access to a world-class education.
Tax Breaks for Families with Students
I wanted to make sure parents know about tax incentives that may allow them to keep more of their hard earned money come tax season. Minnesota has both a credit and a subtraction for education expenses.
Most school supplies qualify for the credit or subtraction, including writing utensils, textbooks, and musical instrument rentals. Common items that don’t qualify for the subtraction or credit include school lunches, uniforms, backpacks, and more. Parents are encouraged to check the Revenue website to determine which expenses qualify.
While the education subtraction is not subject to income limits, the credit is limited to households with incomes less than $37,500 for families with 1-2 children, $39,500 for families with 3 children, and adding $2,000 per child for families with 4 or more children. According to the Department of Revenue, more than 43,000 families took advantage of the education credit saving an average of $242. In all, nearly 200,000 families took advantage of the education subtraction.
Full details about the Education Subtraction and Credit can be found on the Department of Revenue’s website: http://www.revenue.state.mn.us.
High School Page Program
The Minnesota House of Representatives High School Page Program is now accepting applications. Over the last 40 years the program has provided high school juniors with hands-on access to our state government in action. I encourage any high school junior who may be interested in learning more about the legislative process to apply for the page program by December 1st. Click here to apply!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas with me. You can schedule a time to meet with me in my office any time by calling me at 651-296-6746, or share your thoughts by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.