Tricounty News

April 12 Update

Legislative committees begin work on appropriations bills:

This week the legislature officially returned from its weeklong Easter/Passover break.

Constitutionally the legislature must adjourn on or before May 20. With a firm deadline and only seven weeks remaining, the House and Senate have been busy this week with many committees returning to their work.

The focus of the session now turns to the finance committees that will create the various omnibus funding bills and to the House and Senate Tax Committees that will create the taxing mechanisms to pay for the funding bills. We expect most action to begin following the Third Deadline, which is the deadline for all funding and tax bills to reach the House and Senate floor in their respective bodies. The Third Deadline is Friday, April 19.


A return to holidays

For the last three years I’ve avoided holidays. Not the holidays in December. Every single holiday – all 12 months of them. This behavior stems from a psychological compensation issue (as most things do).

Some people thrive on holiday hoopla – and not only those who are able to grow long white beards or are in possession of a size XL bunny suit. I’m talking, of course, about teachers.


Cyberspace swaps symbols for words: #trending

“At” – the two-letter combination originates from humble beginnings as a simple word that required a quick couple hits to the computer keyboard. I grew up knowing when to use “at” within a sentence (but never at the end of one). The tiny word stayed out of the limelight and didn’t get a whole lot of attention – until the pint-sized preposition made the transition from word to symbol and suddenly @ was the place to be.

I’m guessing we all possess at least one @ and access it on a daily basis. E-mail practically owes its existence to the curlicue, lower-
case A.


March 29 Update

Affordable Care Act:

The Federal Affordable Care Act that became law March 23, 2010, could create some additional financial expenditures for our school district. The district could face stiff penalties if it does not provide what the act defines as “affordable minimum essential coverage” to full-time employees. The act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, includes more than 2,000 pages of legislation and 13,000 pages of regulations. The effective dates for various provisions stretch out until 2020, and “many, many” details are not yet defined.

While implementing the provisions, the school district would need to consider several definitions. They include: who is a large group employer; who is a full-time employee; what is “minimum essential coverage”; how is “affordable” defined; and when will the employer be impacted.


March 22 Update

State Government Budget Update:

The governor has backed away from two major components of his tax reform and budget plan, the business-to-business sales tax expansion and the homeowner rebate. He’s still insisting on raising $1.8 billion to back-fill the $627 million deficit and to invest in education and workforce development. The bottom line for K-12 education didn’t change amidst the governor’s budget shuffle. The next big question is what the House and Senate DFL leaders will allot for a K-12 spending target as they move into this week.