St. Paul, MN - Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved the E-12 Education Budget on a vote of 105-20. The legislation makes the strongest level of investment in public schools in 15 years, preserves 4,000 pre-K slots set to expire without action, makes historic investments in increasing the number of teachers of color and Indigenous teachers in Minnesota, and holds down special education and English Language Learner budget shortfalls.
“This compromise was a hard-fought win for Minnesota students and families, especially after an unprecedented year of COVID-19,” said House Education Finance Chair Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis). “Despite being the only divided state legislature in the country, House Democrats fended off harmful private school vouchers and secured the strongest state investments in public education in 15 years. We’re making progress in closing the opportunity gap by hiring and retaining more teachers of color and Indigenous teachers to better reflect our student population. Our education budget delivers students and families the tools they need to recover from the pandemic challenges and thrive well into the future.”
Due to the diligence of House DFLers, “Education Savings Accounts” were not included in the final education budget, which would create a voucher-type program where parents could withdraw their child from the public system and take the state funding with them to a nonpublic school. Instead, the compromise bill includes the strongest level of investment in public education in 15 years with a 2.45% increase to the general formula in 2022, and another 2% in 2023.
"All Minnesota students deserve a world-class education," said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Our final budget makes significant investments in education to help our students recover from challenges brought on by the pandemic and reach their full potential. House DFLers remain committed to closing the opportunity gap and ensuring our children have every opportunity to succeed.”
The compromise bill includes investments to provide stability to public schools during this period of uncertainty, one-time funding for the Special Education and English Learner cross subsidies, and a temporary extension of 4,000 expiring Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten slots.
"The persistent opportunity gaps in our state start in the earliest months and years," said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL - St. Paul), chair of the House Early Childhood Finance & Policy Committee. "There is much more to do to support early learners. In the meantime, the preschool programs funded through this bill will help to give thousands of children a great start, for the benefit of all of us."
The E-12 Education budget directs significant funding to address Minnesota’s shortage of teachers of color. While students of color and Native American students make up 35% of Minnesota’s K-12 student population, only 5.6% of teachers are teachers of color or Native American. While the agreement does not fully fund the original House provision, it still makes a historic investment in addressing this key contributor to the opportunity gap in Minnesota. The programs funded in the agreement for this purpose are:
“Over the past year and a half, our students have had to improvise and adjust to a global pandemic. The leadership Minnesota teachers have shown by overcoming adversity and reaching across a computer screen to ensure learning for our children deserves more than just recognition, it deserves funding.” said House Education Policy Chair Ruth Richardson (DFL - Mendota Heights). “Prior to the pandemic, Minnesota was home to some of the worst racial disparities in student outcomes in education. The opportunity gap and the disparities for Black, Indigenous, students of color, and students with disabilities have further widened. As lawmakers, we are committed to doing our part to improve the access and quality of teaching and learning that enable children and youth to build the skills they need to thrive.”
“Minnesota has the resources to fully fund public schools and provide a world-class education for every child,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “Republican politicians in Congress and the Legislature remain the biggest obstacles to accomplishing this goal. A system in which tax cuts for corporations and the rich are prioritized is powerless to address systemic inequities that hold kids back from reaching their full potential.”
A spreadsheet of the investments contained within the legislation can be accessed here. Video of the House Floor session will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.