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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL)

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Minnesota House Democrats: Education Key to Minnesota’s Success, Republicans Fall Short

Friday, March 31, 2017

SAINT PAUL, MN – Today, the Minnesota House will vote on the Republican E-12 Education Finance bill.

House DFL leaders expressed disappointment that Republicans are continuing to prioritize tax cuts for the rich and well-connected over fully funding Minnesota schools. They emphasized their preference that education be made a top priority.

“Minnesotans all place a high value on the education of our children, because it’s the foundation of our future success,” said the DFL Lead on Education Finance, Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis). “It is clear to me that Republicans are using education funding as a bargaining chip to get the tax cuts that they want, because they know Democrats care deeply about strong public schools. We can’t let Republicans play political games with the future of our kids.”

The Republican plan includes:

  • $450 million less general fund spending for education than Governor Dayton’s budget

  • $47 million cut eliminating voluntary early pre-kindergarten 

  • $26 million cut to compensatory revenue for school districts

  • $3 million cut to ACT testing reimbursement

With a $1.65 billion surplus, Republicans are proposing to underfund our schools, budgeting less than half of what is necessary to expand voluntary early childhood programs and help school districts meet inflationary cost increases. The Republican plan increases general fund spending on education by just 1.25%, while Governor Dayton’s budget increases funding by 2% in each of the next two years. House Democrats have proposed the highest investment of 2.5%.

"Education is the foundation of our success, and we need to seize this opportunity. The fact that Republicans are eliminating an extremely popular program like voluntary pre-kindergarten while we have a $1.6 billion surplus should be very concerning to Minnesotans," said DFL Education Policy Lead Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul). "These pre-k programs already exist in dozens of Minnesota school districts, and there is clear desire by dozens more that would like to provide pre-k to families in their communities. This Republican education bill is a big setback at a time when we should be leaping ahead of the competition."

Minnesota schools are currently funded below 2002 levels including inflation.