New education commissioner introduced, E-12 overview presented

Mary Catheryn Ricker, Governor Walz’s choice for education commissioner, introduced herself and outlined priorities to the Education Committee at its first meeting this week. Committee members heard a brief overview of education finance and a run down of the November forecast.

The Education Finance and Policy Committees have now been rolled into one committee with 12 members, five of who are DFLers. This committee will hear both finance and policy education bills this session and handle all education confirmations. Commissioner Ricker’s appearance before the committee was brief and was not a part of any potential confirmation hearings. She is a national board-certified middle school English teacher, most recently teaching in St. Paul. She has served as executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and as president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers.

Senate fiscal staff provided a brief overview of education finance and the November forecast numbers. Some quick statistics: almost 65% of education programs are funded by the state; 30% is local and just over 5% is federal funding. E-12 education is the largest part of the state budget at 41.3%. Education funding will increase by 4% in FY22-23 because of policy decisions such as a formula increase, growth in the number of students and various transfers.