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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL)

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With $2 billion surplus, our kids should be top priority

Saturday, April 25, 2015

ST. PAUL— Today, the House of Representatives passed the omnibus education bill 69-61 that, despite a nearly $2 billion projected state surplus, will lead to reductions in teaching staff, increased class sizes, and reduced access to the state’s Early Learning Scholarship program. House File 844 would increase state funding for Early Learning and K-12 programs by less than 1% over current levels.  The reason for this low amount is to accommodate the majority’s goal of lowering taxes by $2 billion, mostly for corporate special interests. School officials from around the state have warned that this low amount of funding will cause deep cuts to school budgets.

“We need strong schools for Minnesota to succeed,” said Representative Mike Freiberg (DFL-45B). “Unfortunately, this bill doesn’t even fund our schools’ basic needs and will result in teachers losing their jobs. This is completely unwarranted in a time of surplus. The House majority is more focused on corporate tax cuts than educating Minnesota's students.”  Education superintendents across Minnesota have stated that this bill’s low levels for the school funding formula will result in teacher layoffs.

“If the bill weren’t already inadequate enough, a provision was added to the bill that will jeopardize the safety and emotional health of transgender students in Minnesota,” said Rep. Freiberg. “I am proud of my colleagues who spoke eloquently against this amendment, and I am hopeful that it will not be included in any final education bill.”

On Thursday, House DFL legislators introduced an alternate plan that would invest roughly $800 million in E-12 education. The plan would adequately fund Minnesota schools, invest in pre-K education, address rural disparities, and fund Minnesota’s successful teacher development program. House Republicans tabled the proposal.