Barrett bill needs a funding stream with new revenue

To the editor

Representative Barrett has been making the local papers lately. First he was found guilty of a misdemeanor on a campaign violation, given a hefty fine and a chastising by the three-judge panel that decided the case. Now he has a bill to help property poor school districts like those in our area receive additional funding if they fall below the state average.

Now the bill itself isn’t that bad, but the trouble is the same problem it had last year when he introduced it—he did not include a realistic, sustainable way to fund the $30 million dollar price tag. This year he proposes to take the money from integration aid. Integration aid is aid that is used to close the achievement gap between minority students and white students. So his plan is to steal funding from other schools and students in need of help. Like his misdemeanor, this bill is just so wrong. His funding source of taking integration aid dollars to pay for the bill is dead on arrival and he has to know that. While over all Minnesota students continue to do well on test scores, minority students continue to lag behind, so there is no way the Legislature will take funding from one area of need to fund another- no matter how deserving. This bill will go nowhere in the legislature unless he brings a funding stream with it and that means new revenue, which Rep. Barrett won’t support. Rep. Barrett knows all this so one has to wonder what is behind his introducing this bill in the first place.

If he’s serious about helping school districts like ones in our area, he should work to support Rep. Tim Faust’s bill on equalizing operating levies. Rep Faust’s bill would lower the property tax impact of operating levies in low tax capacity districts by using state aids to pay for a percentage of the levy based on a school district’s tax capacity. This is a more realistic fix to helping our schools, and although more expensive it’s a “real” fix, a real solution.  Rep. Barrett’s a co-author on Rep. Faust’s bill, so I’m asking Rep. Barrett “do the right thing” and support the equalization bill.

Susan L. Anderson

North Branch

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