ST. Paul, MN — Governor Mark Dayton released his 2014-2015 biennium budget proposal on January 22. According to Sen. Jim Metzen, the Governor’s budget is a positive first step to solve the state’s $1.1 billion budget shortfall and repaying the $1.1 billion owed to schools.
“The Governor’s budget fulfills his pledge to restore fairness to Minnesota’s tax code and provides significant property tax relief for middle-class families and small businesses,” Metzen said. “The proposed budget package resolves the state’s $1.1 billion deficit honestly, without one-time money or borrowing, and provides for key investments in the areas of early childhood education, higher education, and economic development.”
Metzen said the renewed focus on education will help push our state back to the top of the class. During the past decade, Minnesota fell from 10th in K-12 spending to 20th. In order to maintain our world class workforce, Minnesota needs to maintain our world class education system. We need to invest in Minnesota’s children, from early childhood to ensuring an affordable college education.
The Governor’s budget takes some bold steps in his education budget proposal including stabilizing education funding that is more flexible for districts and more transparent for parents. The Governor’s budget also repays the school shift by 2016. Other important initiatives include:
• $399 million for early childhood and K-12 Education including:
o $118 million – to increase amount schools receive by $52 per student.
o $40 million – to pay for all-day kindergarten programs. Currently about 54 percent of Minnesota students are in all-day programs. With this investment 85 percent of students would be included in all-day programs.
• $344 Million for E-12 Education. The Governor’s budget increases E-12 funding by an average of $72 per student in FY2014 and an average $339 increase per student in FY2015 through these investments, including: $125 Million for Special Education, $118 Million Increase on the Formula, $44 Million for Early Childhood Education Scholarships, $40 Million for All Day Kindergarten, $10 Million for Teacher Evaluation, $8.9 Million for English Language Learning.
• $240 Million for Higher Education. The Governor’s budget provides: $80 million for the State Grant Program, making college more affordable for another 5,000 students; $80 million for the University of Minnesota and $80 million for MnSCU.
• $4.5 Million for Regional Centers of Excellence. The Governor’s budget establishes six new Regional Centers of Excellence to help the state’s most struggling schools.
• $1.8 Million for Paperwork Reduction. The Governor’s budget permanently reduces special education paperwork, giving teachers more time in the classroom and less time filling out forms.
• $1 Million for School Bullying Prevention. The Governor’s budget invests in guidance, training, and support to schools to create safer environments for students to learn.
Although Sen. Metzen cited many positives in Governor Dayton’s budget, he believes there is room for compromise and improvement. “There is much to consider as we begin the ongoing discussion about Minnesota’s budget,” Metzen said. “I look forward to working across the aisle, with Democrats and Republicans, to improve the Governor’s plan.”
Senator Metzen encourages people to contact his office with your comments and concerns. You can email sen.jim.metzen or call 651-296-4370. An active constituency is a critical foundation for our democracy.