Senate Republicans’ education bill falls short for Minnesota students

ST. PAUL, MINN – On Wednesday, the Minnesota passed an inadequate Omnibus Education bill that will lead to cuts for Minnesota’s schools. It fails to address challenges faced by students, parents, and teachers across the state. The bill, SF 7, provides $211 million in additional funding for Minnesota’s schools, but does not provide the new funding necessary to keep up with rising costs. 

“The education budget we passed today can be summed up with this: half and half is good for coffee, but it doesn’t mask the bitter taste it leaves for our schools by woefully underfunding the basic funding formula,” said Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), the ranking DFL member on the Senate E-12 Education Finance Committee. “The lack of funding for our schools will cause cuts to districts across the state and harm the ability of our students to get the education they deserve and the opportunity to succeed.”

The bill provides a .5 percent/.5 percent on the Basic Funding Formula, which would provide $94.8 million in funding in Fiscal Year 2020 but would cut funding by $137.4 million in Fiscal Year 2021. It also provides no increase in funding to address the growing costs of the special education cross subsidy and would eliminate Voluntary PreK for 4,000 students currently enrolled in these vital early learning programs. 

“Every student, regardless of their race or zip code, deserves a good teacher and access to the materials they need to compete in today’s economy,” added Senator Wiger. “This bill is inadequate. It hurts schools, and most importantly, doesn’t enhance academic success for Minnesota’s students.”

Positive steps are taken by the bill for the School Safety levy and aid, with $74 million in funding to be used for enhancing school safety including school support staff and security upgrades. It also includes policy that will provide better information for students in testing, and approximately $3.59 million to help students take advantage of PSEO opportunities.

“Any good provisions in this bill cannot overcome the lack of robust investment our students need to succeed, and if this bill was passed into law, we would be taking a major step backwards for Minnesota’s kids,” added Senator Wiger. “However, we have the opportunity to increase investment by moving closer to the approach of our colleagues in the House, and I will work with my colleagues to secure a real increase in funding that can make sure students are succeeding.”

Senator Chuck Wiger
Chuck Wiger represents District 43, which includes portions of Ramsey and Washington counties in the northeastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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