March’s Policy Hour provided an update on the state budget forecast, and the importance of participating in the upcoming census.
State Budget Forecast
Betsy Hammer, from the MN Budget Project, gave an update on the recently released state budget forecast. The state releases information about the budget two times a year; once in December and once in February. The budget forecasts are what the legislature and Governor use to craft the state budget every two years.
The forecast continues to show a positive balance, of $1.5 billion, which is good news, but there’s also reason to be cautious. The Coronavirus and its impact on the economy, and federal trade and tariff policies are both things to keep our eye on.
The MFIP (MN Family Investment Program) Child Care Assistance Program is a forecasted program, meaning anyone needing this service can access it, because the state has built it into the budget. This program is showing a slight decline in caseloads due to the strong economy.
The Basic Sliding Fee Child Care and Early Learning Scholarships are not forecasted, so the amount of money that is allocated by the legislature is what is available to children and families.
Since the state budget was set last year, there is no need to pass any budget related items this year, but it’s likely the legislature and Governor will work together to pass a supplemental budget. They will also work together to pass a capital investment, or bonding, bill.
The legislature must adjourn by Sunday, May 17. The first committee deadline is quickly approaching on Friday, March 20. The legislature will be on Easter/Passover break from April 4 – April 13.
Andrew Virden, from the MN State Demographic Center, presented about the importance of participating in the census.
One in five MN residents, or nearly 1 million people, were not counted in the 2010 census. To ensure MN receives federal funding, (child care assistance, food program, WIC, and much more) and keeps our congressional seat, we must ensure everyone is counted in the 2020 census.
The first invitation to fill out the census will be sent next week, March 12-20. There is an online option this year or you may also fill out the form and mail it back. If you don’t fill it out, there will be four more touch points, and then census workers will follow-up in person this summer.
Children under the age of 5 were the most undercounted age group in the 2010 Census, which is where you come in as educators!
You can help educate the families in your program about the importance of completing the census, and you may also create time and space to help families in filling out the form. You can also encourage your staff and colleagues to do the same.
Learn more at https://mn.gov/admin/2020-census/.
Want to watch all of the March Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour? You can view the entire video on Minnesota’s Future Facebook page.
This guest blog post was written by Sara Benzkofer, Executive Director of the Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC) and the Minnesota School-Age Care Alliance (MnSACA). Benzkofer is also a member of Minnesota’s Future.