For more information contact: Erik Anderson 651-296-5318
Last week I welcomed the First Battalion, First Marines Vietnam Veterans - 1st of the 1st - at their national reunion held this year at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bloomington. I was honored to speak to them and their families. It was a good reminder that it is never too late to welcome a veteran home.
Tomorrow I am going to be at the Minnesota House of Representatives booth at the State Fair from 10 a.m. until noon. Please stop by if you have any questions for me or if you just want to chat.
The arrival of the State Fair also means that the start of a new school year is just around the corner. While students in Bloomington start next Tuesday, countless Minnesotans, including teachers, parents, support staff, administrators and others have already started and are set to hit the ground running - helping our young people learn skills, gain valuable life experiences, and reach academic success.
Here in Minnesota, we value our world class schools, and our students deserve the support they need to succeed in the classroom. Read below for an update on education items from the 2017 legislative session.
Fighting to fund our K-12 schools
While this year’s legislative session did increase investments in our schools, it was disappointing it was such a fight considering the massive surplus. In fact the House Majority actually proposed underfunding our schools. This would have led to teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and cuts in the classroom –completely unacceptable during a budget surplus. Thankfully, Gov. Dayton and DFLers in the Legislature were committed to supporting our schools and children. Minnesota’s public schools will see a 2 percent increase on the per pupil funding formula each of the next two years –enough to keep up with inflation.
Pre-K available for 22,500 more young learners
Good news for Minnesota kids came earlier this month when Gov. Dayton announced a list of the 59 public school districts and charter schools receiving funding for pre-K education. This means 22,500 more kids will be able to enter preschool this fall from funds the Legislature allocated for voluntary pre-K and School Readiness Plus programs. Unfortunately, thousands of young learners throughout the state still don’t have access to affordable learning opportunities. Unaddressed, this void only exacerbates our state’s persistent achievement gap, and we need to come together with solutions giving all Minnesota students a boost as they begin their academic journeys.
Many college students to see tuition hikes, increased debt
For those Minnesotans going to college this fall, unfortunately the legislative session likely left them facing a higher bill. The House Majority chose to grossly underfund the needs of both the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State systems, meaning tuition will increase, and along with programming and faculty cuts at campuses, this could cause our state’s future economic growth to be hamstrung. Minnesota college students are ranked fifth in the nation for the average student loan debt load. Higher tuition means higher debt, and increased investments will need to be made in our colleges and universities to prevent this burden from becoming completely unsustainable. I’m committed to continuing to work to reduce the costs of higher education and job training, and helping to tackle student debt.
School supply purchases may be tax-deductible
With a new school year means purchasing school supplies, and this amount can add up quickly. Luckily, there is a tax benefit available for parents of K-12 students toward most of these supplies. Parents should remember to save receipts for these purchases to claim the tax credit or subtraction on their 2017 state income tax return. The Minnesota Department of Revenue has more information available here.
It’s up to all of us to create an environment in which our young people can have the opportunity for successful development both now and down the road. I wish the students in your family the best, and hope you will provide the encouragement they need to meet their full potential, reaching goals and achieving at a high level in the classroom and in all of their endeavors including athletics, arts, or other activities in school and in the community.
Have an excellent school year.
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