On Friday, Senate Republicans unveiled their education bill for the 2022 Legislative Session. With an historic $9.25 billion budget surplus, they are proposing to spend only $30 million to address needs facing students, parents, teachers, and school staff.
In response, ranking DFL member on the Senate Education Committee Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood) released the following statement:
“Senate Republicans released their education supplemental budget today, which reads more like a single budget request than a comprehensive package to address the urgent needs of our students and schools. It’s unfortunate the proposal isn’t an April Fool’s joke.
“The Republican proposal only provides $30 million for literacy training, and blatantly ignores the critical needs of our students, parents, teachers, and school districts. We support comprehensive efforts to improve reading proficiency, which is what Governor Walz has taken with his Bold North proposal. Our schools are asking the legislature to address a multitude of concerns, including the multi-million-dollar shortfall in funding for special education and English language learning, additional social workers and counselors to support student mental health, and recruitment and retention resources to address the teacher shortage.
“Per-student funding has not kept up with inflation since 2003 and schools are experiencing increased costs due to inflation. As we face a $9.25 billion budget surplus, the Senate Republican plan fails to provide another dollar to students in the classroom. This ignores what parents are telling us, including the Minnesota PTA, who ‘urge Senators to take action to fully fund our public schools, add an automatic inflation component to the general education formula, and close the special education cross subsidy.’
“Governor Walz recognizes the unprecedented needs of our schools by requesting a 2% increase in the basic education formula ($133 million in FY23), $47 million to reduce the special education cross subsidy, $21 million for student mental health support personnel, and $18 million to support retention and recruitment to keep teachers in the classroom. These are only some of the challenges in education we need to tackle now, not next year.
“This so-called Republican education ‘budget’ is a lackadaisical, insufficient, and shortsighted proposal that does not move our state forward in providing Minnesota students with the first-class education they are entitled to and parents expect. With a historic budget surplus of $9.25 billion, and many school districts forced to make cuts without additional funds, we must do more than spend 0.3% of our historic surplus on education. Get serious. Students are our future.”