Sen. Hoffman votes for education bill amid caution; argues for greater funding for schools
ST. PAUL, Minn – The Senate Republican education bill passed on Tuesday off of the Senate floor. The bill falls short of meeting the needs of Minnesota students, at a time when the state is experiencing a time of prosperity with a projected $1.6 billion surplus. While Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin) voted in favor of the bill, saying it contained several important provisions for the Anoka-Hennepin School District, he acknowledged that it didn’t go far enough. The $300 million bill is less than half of Governor Dayton’s $709 million education proposal—and also lacks any new funding for early education.
“This education bill doesn’t go far enough to support Minnesota schools with adequate funding. But it does make critical steps forward in other areas – most important with a nearly $14 million investment in compensatory education. This funding started out as a pilot program 12 years ago and since then has helped narrow the achievement gap in the Anoka-Hennepin School District by targeting extra funding to schools with high levels of kids with free or reduced price lunch. I am proud to support a program that has resulted in such great results for kids in our community. However, I am keeping my eye on this bill as it heads to conference, we can and must do more to fund schools and expand early education funding in Minnesota,” said Sen. Hoffman.
The lack of any new funding for expanding voluntary pre-kindergarten lies in sharp contrast to Governor Dayton’s proposed $175 million pre-k expansion. No new money will mean thousands of 4-year-olds won’t have access to critical pre-k programming to help prepare them for kindergarten.
Despite promises made by Republican leadership to fully fund the basic education funding formula – which goes directly to keep class sizes small and pay electricity bills, their bill falls short yet again to give schools adequate funding. By shortchanging the funding formula, schools will be faced with cuts, as the state investments won’t keep up with inflation costs or adequately address education needs across the state.
Controversial policy provisions in the bill include changes to tiered licensure for teachers. These changes will likely result in financially struggling school districts hiring teachers with lower qualifications, as the bill would allow individuals with no teacher training to teach in Minnesota schools for as long as they wish.
2017 Educating Funding Comparison
|Total Biennial Budget Increase:
|Basic Education Funding Formula:
2% each year
$370 million (FY18-19)
1.5% each year
$274 million (FY18-19)
|Voluntary pre-k for 4-year-olds