Senator Heather Gustafson Introduces Legislation to Bolster School Funding

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Thursday, April 4, the Senate Education Finance Committee heard Senate File 3449 and Senate Fille 4184, bills authored by Senator Heather Gustafson (DFL-Vadnais Heights).

SF 3449 seeks to address inflationary pressures, which make it more and more difficult to pay staff, keep school buildings operating, and support academic programming and extracurricular activities. The bill would increase the basic education formula allowance by 2% in fiscal year 2025. The formula allowance would increase from $7,281 per pupil to $7,427 per pupil.

SF 4184 simplifies the equalizing formulas for local optional revenue and referendum revenue, allowing school districts to rely less on property taxpayers with higher levels of state aid. The bill increases a school district’s local optional revenue authority from $724 per pupil to $920 per pupil. Local optional revenue provides school districts with the ability to levy school funding dollars without putting a referendum to voters in the district.

“We need to boost funding across the board for all schools and do our part to ensure schools have the chance to catch up,” said Sen. Gustafson. “In 2023, we made a historic investment in public schools, but after twenty years of grossly underfunding them, we still have a lot of work to do. These bills are the next steps in ensuring our students and schools get the resources they need.”

Both bills were laid over for potential inclusion in a future omnibus bill. You can watch the bill presentation here.

Senator Heather Gustafson represents Senate District 36 which includes Centerville, Circle Pines, Lino Lakes, North Oaks, Vadnais Heights, and White Bear Lake. She is vice chair of the Education Finance Committee, and serves on the Agriculture, Broadband, and Rural Development Committee and the Jobs and Economic Development Committee.

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