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Education Bill a ‘Zero’ for Minnesota students and schools
House Republicans are starving students and schools so they can feed their corporate special interests
SAINT PAUL, MINN. – House Republicans passed an E-12 & Higher Education omnibus bill tonight, providing a $0 budget target for Minnesota schools and students despite a $900 million budget surplus. Instead, House Republicans have prioritized tax breaks that largely benefit big corporations and the wealthiest Minnesotans. As they have done all session, House Democrats pushed for priorities that would invest in education from early childhood through college, but House Republicans blocked each of those efforts during the debate on the bill.
“The education bill should be the most exciting bill of the session because it’s what defines our commitment to the future of our state, but this bill is generating zero excitement - that’s what happens when you make zero investment in education,” said House DFL Leader Paul Thissen. “Republicans are choosing big tax cuts for their well-connected special interests at the expense of Minnesota’s students and schools. It’s the wrong direction for Minnesota’s future because you can’t starve our state to greatness.”
By setting a zero budget target for higher education, House Republicans are doing nothing to address Minnesota’s student debt crisis and doubling-down on their budget from 2015 that raised tuition on Minnesota students. Minnesota currently ranks 5th in the nation in student debt and the average student graduates in Minnesota with $31,579 in debt. And 70% of all Minnesota graduates carry student debt, which is third highest.
House Democrats offered several amendments to the budget that would have made college more affordable, such as investments that would have frozen tuition for Minnesota students and another that would made it easier for students to refinance their student loans. House Republicans blocked each effort to make college more affordable for Minnesotans.
“It’s such a shame that with a $900 million surplus House Republicans are ignoring our student debt crisis,” said Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL- Brooklyn Park). “Who needs the money more – big corporate special interests or families struggling with the high cost of higher education? The biggest financial problem facing many Minnesota families is a crushing level of student debt and we believe those families should be our priority this session. We have the opportunity to make college more affordable and we should seize it.”
The E-12 & Higher Education omnibus bill also provides a zero dollar budget target for E-12 education. House Democrats brough forward to increase our investments in pre-K for Minnesota’s earliest learners, but they were rejected by House Republicans. As a result, they are missing an opportunity to confront Minnesota’s achievement gap and improve education outcomes for all Minnesotans.
“An investment in education is an investment in the future of our state,” said Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL – St. Paul), House Deputy Leader. “I am especially disappointed in the lack of investment that Republicans are making in our earliest learners. To create the economy of the future, we need our kids to be prepared from pre-K to college, but Republicans are choosing to shortchange our kids and our future.”
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