Minnesota lawmakers are constitutionally required to set a 2022-2023 budget before June 30 this year and this week, Governor Walz took the first step by announcing his budget priorities. The proposal is focused on helping Minnesotans recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by investing in schools and students, businesses, and working families.
Much of the budget is focused on helping working families find good paying jobs and providing small businesses with much-needed relief to help mitigate the challenges the pandemic has caused. Additionally, the Governor’s budget works to empower students with the comprehensive support needed, including investments in summer learning programs, school-linked mental health services, increased school funding, and a teacher mentor program. The budget also prioritizes initiatives to address the achievement gap: it establishes an ethnic studies standard, increases resources for districts with low tax bases, and expands rigorous coursework offered at more schools.
The governor’s budget offers varied revenue sources to help offset the costs, including modest budget cuts, and changes in the estate, vapor and cigarette taxes. In addition, the wealthy and profitable corporations will be asked to pay their fair share through a new tax bracket for those earning more than $1 million – while more than 1 million Minnesotans receive a tax cut.
In contrast, Republican leaders have articulated a tired vision that arbitrarily cuts agency budgets, including the very people who are helping to lead the COVID-19 response – public health officials and safety personnel, nursing homes staff, hospital front-line worker and educational leaders. They rejected the idea of new revenue at the outset, even if it means more tax-fairness for the average Minnesotan, and they reiterated their priority to “reopen Minnesota,” despite having offered not a single plan to do so safely.
The governor’s full budget documents may be found here. Senate DFLers will release priorities in the coming weeks and share Gov. Walz’s commitment to focusing on thoughtful plans to help Minnesota recover from the pandemic.
The GOP spent seven special sessions complaining about the pandemic but not doing anything about its affects. They claim to want to re-open schools but didn’t hold any hearings on how to safely bring kids back into the classrooms and now chastise the governor’s bold initiative to revitalize and reform Minnesota’s education system and blame teachers for causing the problems the GOP refuses to address.
So far, the GOP education-related bill introductions have included anti-vaccination policies—although the state is working diligently to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to help re-open schools—additional curriculum mandates to schools and small funding programs for specific programs that won’t help all Minnesota schools and student recover from the effects of the pandemic.