2015-16 MN Legislative Session & Budget

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David Greene
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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby David Greene » May 17th, 2015, 9:50 pm

Well, let's not make the man a deity. He still doesn't understand transportation.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby MNdible » May 17th, 2015, 9:52 pm

So now anybody that dares question the juggernaut that is Education Minnesota hates teachers?

Come on, we can do better than that here.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby acs » May 17th, 2015, 9:56 pm

Where did I say I am for the GOP's plan? In fact, I've been pretty supportive of the DFL senate's position on pretty much everything this session. They have the most progressive transportation plan of the three, banking the most money from the projected surplus, rejecting the estate tax cuts like you mentioned, and a commitment not to pass a budged with structural deficits.

If we want to debate the policy, then let me say that I would be far more comfortable with funding universal preschool IF quite a few advocacy groups weren't against it and for scholarships (MinneMinds, both houses education committees, Minnesota Early Learning Foundation) IF we were less than two years removed from mandating universal Kindergarten, IF there weren't at least somewhat credible studies doubting the long-term ability to close the achievement gap with universal preschool, IF over the next several decades we were projecting a surge of new births rather than a decline in the state workforce, IF higher education weren't facing more tuition increases because they couldn't get the funding, and if K-12 education budgets weren't already crimped due to expensive defined benefit pensions and health plans coupled with an aging cadre of teachers.

Resources are limited, especially for government, and by being a Minnesota taxpayer I've knowingly signed up for having great K-12 and college education in the state and paying for it. I'm not willing to jeopardize that going forward to fund a whole new level of education with a likely one-time surplus because it will assuredly come back to bite public education funding as a whole. You just cannot be certain of Democrats being in control when that happens and then it comes down to tax increases or spending cuts. Scholarships can be rolled back for just the four-year-olds, but once preschool is universal the cuts will impact all grades E-12. I'm sure preschool is at least marginally beneficial to a child's overall education and achievement, but more so than K-12? More so than higher ed? I'm just not willing to put K-12 education at more long-term risk over this and I don't think many lawmakers are either.

Now, if you want to get into motives instead of substance, EdMN's insistence that all the teachers be licensed like their K-12 union counterparts is pretty telling.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby VAStationDude » May 18th, 2015, 7:46 am

Universal pre k is good policy because precisely because it folds education for four year olds into the larger and politically sacrosanct k-12 budget. Scholarships make pre k a social welfare program and we know how popular social services are. I don't buy into the idea that unlicensed "motivated" teachers with a non education degree are better than experienced trained professional teachers.

Higher education in this country is unaffordable in large part due to management bloat. That's a whole different issue. I personally am in favor of tuition freezes and static budgets for the U of mn system.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby David Greene » May 18th, 2015, 7:48 am

This legislature is crazy. So we're not doing transportation, we're not doing pre-K, we're cutting MNCare, we're not fully funding higher ed, we killed Restore the Vote and Driver's License for All, all in a time when we have a surplus.

Yes, I understand the $2 billion number is fake but it looks like we cut when we have deficits and we cut when we have surpluses too.
.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby David Greene » May 18th, 2015, 7:50 am

VAStationDude wrote:Higher education in this country is unaffordable in large part due to management bloat. That's a whole different issue. I personally am in favor of tuition freezes and static budgets for the U of mn system.
It's far more complicated than that. Graduate research used to subsidize undergrad tuition. Now it's the other way around. That's just one example of how federal policy hits home.

Maybe management is a problem, but it's hardly the only one.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby acs » May 18th, 2015, 9:00 am

VAStationDude wrote:Universal pre k is good policy because precisely because it folds education for four year olds into the larger and politically sacrosanct k-12 budget.
Your logic here is exactly the same as what MNDOT and the road building lobby argues for. Once that road is built, its politically sacrosanct too and must be maintained whether or not we can afford it. My argument for education is the same as for roads. Why are we expanding the system at a time when we can't even maintain the system we have? I don't want to fund a long-term liability (whether roads or preschool) with a one-time surplus either. Taxes need to be raised to cover both. Unlike you I do include higher education in that system as well and believe it deserves the funding to hold down tuition. After all, the biggest difference in career earnings potential isn't between those who attend preschool and those who don't, but between those who go to college and those only with a high school diploma.

Another thing to clarify. MNcare isn't getting cut, that got shot down by the senate. However the tax that funds it is set to expire in 2017, so a commission has been set up to look at what to do with it. The ACA was just a dream when MN Care was enacted in 1992 and it would be stupidly regressive not to at least look at where there is overlap considering how much has changed.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby mattaudio » May 18th, 2015, 9:04 am

I'm not wading into this thread regarding education or any other issue. Except a general comment about the surplus. It's ridiculous that the GOP or the DFL are considering spending or returning this mostly-non-existent surplus. Stash it away. Too obvious for either party.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby VAStationDude » May 18th, 2015, 9:17 am

That's a valid argument. I think it's worth extending ourselves to get pre k. Disagreeing about the policy and fiscal impacts is fair but the teachers union shots are not fair, imo.

Non teaching administration spending is almost $6000 a year per student at the university of Minnesota. Getting rid of useless overpaid administrators should be forced on the university by the legislature.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby FISHMANPET » May 18th, 2015, 9:38 am

Speaking as non-teaching staff at the University I... have surprisingly few thoughts. I supported an academic advising department for a few years, and they were growing, while enrollment in that particular college wasn't growing that much. But those new people weren't just doing nothing. A lot of the hires were working to help minorities get into and suceed in college, or get more women into science and engineering. Basically, goals that a progressive left should agree are "good." So I think it's easy to look at a $6000 number and say that's a lot, but it's harder to look down and say "yes these programs should be cut." And there's plenty of ineffective staff all around, but when you do things like pay a women who's worked there for 10 or 20 years $35,000 a year, I'm not sure you should be expecting top of the line help.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby EOst » May 18th, 2015, 9:47 am

Yep. There are very few admin staff who are actually doing nothing. Most of the time, that "new" money is spent correcting for other injustices in the system.

What the U system needs isn't heavy-handed state mandates, it's money. Minnesota cut its contribution to the public university system by over 50% in the last thirty years. Recent increases haven't even stemmed the bleeding. If people actually want affordable public higher education, they need to understand that there is only one silver bullet.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby EOst » May 18th, 2015, 9:50 am

It's worth noting too, about that tired trope of colleges and rec centers: the amount those cost is pennies on the dollar compared to everything else in a given college or university's budget. Sure, you could get rid of them and cut tuition a percentage point or two, but then the offer is "come to Minnesota and pay $19,000, or go to Wisconsin and pay $20,000 and get a full-service rec center too," and I don't think I have to tell you which one most 18-year-olds would choose.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby acs » May 18th, 2015, 10:09 am

VAStationDude wrote:That's a valid argument. I think it's worth extending ourselves to get pre k. Disagreeing about the policy and fiscal impacts is fair but the teachers union shots are not fair, imo.

Non teaching administration spending is almost $6000 a year per student at the university of Minnesota. Getting rid of useless overpaid administrators should be forced on the university by the legislature.
For the same reason you can take shots at the U of M, I can criticize the K-12 teachers union. We both would like each to be more efficient. You would like to see admin and management bloat cut, I would like to see an end to LIFO teacher firing practices and all teachers moved off of expensive defined benefit pension plans like most other public and private sector employees. Both organizations will heavily resist and changes will likely need to be forced by the legislature. The difference is that higher ed can raise tuition to cover inefficiency directly from the ones who "benefit", while K-12 must ask all Minnesotans for funding increases.

Note, I didn't go to the U or any Minnesota school so I have no dog in this fight. Nor do I have kids.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby VAStationDude » May 18th, 2015, 10:16 am

Administrators are actually doing stuff. I know this. A lot of it is worthless make work management non sense. I agree the state should better fund the university but not until they get their house in order. I don't want additional funding leading to rapid increases in administrators as has been the norm over the last fifteen years.

I can't agree with you about defined benefit pensions. The 401k model has been a total disaster for everyone who needs help affording retirement. It's been great for rich people who receive most of the tax benefits and Wall Street money managers.

If teachers have had explosive growth in compensation while not serving a real purpose, comparing teachers to university administrators would be fair.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby FISHMANPET » May 18th, 2015, 10:21 am

I'll admit I've only seen a sliver of the University in my time, but I've never seen anyone doing make work. Do you have ideas about specific management positions administering specific programs that should be cut?

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby xandrex » May 18th, 2015, 10:38 am

VAStationDude wrote:If teachers have had explosive growth in compensation while not serving a real purpose, comparing teachers to university administrators would be fair.
As someone with many friends working in University of Minnesota administration, I can tell you that they're hardly seeing "explosive growth" in their wages. These aren't people getting rich off the system - most U admin are middle class at best and paid below-market wages (except at the bottom, where—similar to other public sector jobs—wages are slightly higher). Yeah, there are a few folks at the top making really good money for kinda wishy-washy work. Yes, we definitely need some cuts. But a generic "slash admin wages!" is as bad a rallying cry as "down with teacher unions!"
Last edited by xandrex on May 18th, 2015, 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby FISHMANPET » May 18th, 2015, 10:46 am

There are no easy answers anywhere anymore. There's no "one weird trick" to drastically reducing the cost of government and society. I have no doubt that there is somewhere, someone doing make work that is not contributing very much to the University's mission. I don't believe there is some systemic problem where droves of administrators are being hired to do work of no consequence.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby EOst » May 18th, 2015, 11:19 am

VAStationDude wrote:Administrators are actually doing stuff. I know this. A lot of it is worthless make work management non sense. I agree the state should better fund the university but not until they get their house in order. I don't want additional funding leading to rapid increases in administrators as has been the norm over the last fifteen years.
This is, straight up, a myth that has been pushed on you by credulous people and a conservative movement that doesn't value higher education. When you actually look at the numbers, the vast majority of administrative growth in the past 20 years has been due to IT people (who count as admin staff for accounting purposes), counselors, and the decline of clerical/secretarial staff. Yes, there are maybe a few people waiting it out for retirement. But getting rid of most of those people would cost more money (in a hundred different ways) than it actually costs to keep them.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby mattaudio » May 18th, 2015, 11:45 am

I'm still largely staying out of this thread on particular issues. Though I will say it seems ridiculous for folks to defend their pet segment of the state's spending (say, K-12 education and their union representation) then meanwhile attack other closely-related segments of state's spending (say, union-represented higher education professionals). I'm often one to piss people off for the sake of my cause, but still... wow.

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Re: 2015 MN Legislative Session & Budget

Postby VAStationDude » May 18th, 2015, 6:49 pm

I'm defending k 12 teachers because they do good work and are actually in classrooms.

Higher education bloat has really ramped in the last ten years, long after information technology became essential to the operations of a university. Back when I graduated from a big university ten years ago most major administrative functions (billing, registration, grading, payroll, etc) were fully computerized. Admissions was not fully computerized back then.

The biggest bloat has not been among the professional ranks but with management. This is where the bull shit make work positions exist. Initiatives and other management decisions run through a plethora of managers and managers stick their noses into areas where faculty and professional employees should be left alone to do their job. I've seen the same thing, but not to the obscene higher education level, in both the public and private sector during my career.

The university of California faculty association (a politically conservative bunch who don't value education) has a nice graph showing management bloat at their university. http://ucbfa.org/2013/01/uc-management-bloat-updated/

That graph represents just the number of positions and doesn't account for the explosive growth in management salaries.


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