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RELEASE: Reps. Liebling and Boldon vote for House DFL Higher Ed., E-12 budgets with investments in students at all learning levels

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.

“We have a responsibility to ensure our students, educators, and families have the tools they need to recover from this challenging year,” said Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL – Rochester). “Through the significant investments in these bills, House DFLers are expanding opportunities for all students—from early learning through college—to reach their potential and succeed in life.”

"Barriers to our higher education system exacerbate inequities throughout our state. The Higher Education bill takes several steps to ensure our higher education is affordable and increasingly accessible to everyone. We also take important steps to ensure that our technical education needs are met, so every Minnesotan can pursue the future that suits them best," said Rep. Liz Boldon (DFL – Rochester). "We often pride ourselves on the quality of our public E-12 education, unfortunately we continue to have racial inequities in education across the state. This E-12 Education budget bill invests in every student, in every district, so that our children's future is not determined by their race or zip code."

The House DFL’s E-12 education budget stabilizes school investments with a 2 percent per pupil increase for each of the next two years, with additional increases the following two years so schools can make plans with the confidence 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 in 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 Minnesota’s very youngest learners. 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 that childcare workers can earn a living wage. The bill includes $250,000 each of the next two years for Cradle 2 Career, a program in Rochester working to dramatically improve educational outcomes resulting in healthy individuals and families.

The Higher Education budget holds tuition flat at Minnesota State 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 our college campuses through 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. It also 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 House Floor session is available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube page.