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RELEASE: Rep. Sandstede supports House DFL E-12 Education, Higher Ed. budgets with investments in students from cradle to career

Monday, April 19, 2021

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House approved the E-12 Education budget bill aimed at helping students catch up after a year of unprecedented difficulties, and makes an ongoing commitment to students and families with strong investments into the future. The House also passed the Higher Education budget bill which continues the House DFL’s commitment to students by proposing strong ongoing investments to Minnesota’s public colleges and universities.

“This past year has been unthinkably difficult for students, educators, and parents as we’ve worked to ensure our young people can receive the world class education they deserve,” said Rep. Julie Sandstede (DFL – Hibbing), Vice Chair of the House Education Finance Committee. “Our House DFL education budget makes the necessary investments to help students not only rebound from the past year, but sets the stage for ongoing, sustainable funding schools have been desperately counting on for long range planning and predictability. The conversation will certainly continue as we head into conference committee, and it’s our responsibility to ensure every student has the support they need to succeed.”

The House DFL’s E-12 education budget stabilizes school investments with a 2 percent per pupil increase each of the next two years, with additional increases the following two years. Starting in fiscal year 2026, increases would be linked to inflation so schools can do long-term strategic planning and be confident that they will have the resources they need. Under the proposal, voluntary Pre-Kindergarten programming that would otherwise expire is protected for 4,000 of Minnesota’s youngest learners. House DFLers are also prioritizing the needs of students with funding for full-service community schools, and targeted aid for more rigorous coursework, individualized tutoring, mental health support and social and emotional learning. The bill also provides strong pathways to postsecondary opportunities.

The budget invests in early care and learning, with nearly $40 million in early learning scholarships directed to the very youngest and most vulnerable Minnesotans. It establishes a Great Start for All Minnesota Children Task Force to develop a plan that ensures all families have access to high-quality, affordable early care and learning regardless of race, income, or zip code and child care workers earn a living wage.

The Higher Education budget holds tuition flat at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and increases funding to the State Grant Program, benefitting over 75,000 students and expanding access to over 3,000 grant applicants.  In response to student testimony about their challenges this year and the need for more direct support for student health and wellness, the bill makes new ongoing investments in mental health resources and aims to address food insecurity on college campuses by incorporating the Hunger Free Campus Act. The bill also includes ongoing investments in the Z-Degree program to help reduce the cost of textbooks and course materials for students. The legislation requires the Office of Higher Education to report on the transfer movement of students who withdraw from enrollment without completing a degree or credential program, which will provide critical data to help understand the challenges Minnesota students face when transferring or struggling to finish their degree.

Video of the floor session will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel