Senate education budget falls short for Minnesota students

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. Sen. Steve Cwodzinski (DFL-Eden Prairie) objected, not only the size of the bill—which is less than half of Governor Dayton’s $709 million education proposal—but also the total lack of new funding for early education. The bill also contains several controversial policy provisions that could degrade the quality of teachers in Minnesota.

“There are a few items that I liked seeing in today’s education budget. There is civic education funding, suicide prevention language, and a provision to eliminate red tape in teacher licensure. However, there was also a lot missing from this budget. There was no funding for pre-k, no language on teacher retention, and a lack of funding on the general education formula. By only increasing the formula by 1.5 percent for the next two years, many first and second year teachers with fires in their belly will be seeing pink slips when they show up to school, and that was why I ended up voting no,” said Sen. Cwodzinski.

BACKGROUND:

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

Governor Senate Republicans
Total Biennial Budget Increase:

$709 million

 

$300 million

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

$175 million

 

$0

 

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Steve Cwodzinski represents District 48 in the southwest Twin Cities metro.

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