The Legislature had one job it needed to do this session — pass a state budget. Unfortunately, they didn’t finish their assignment on time when session ended May 17 and will have to come back this summer to finish their work.
Gov. Tim Walz and House and Senate leaders did reach an overarching budget deal that could protect most schools from devastating budget cuts and layoffs for the next two years. But the agreement doesn’t provide a long-term solution to the chronic underfunding of our public schools.
“This budget should stem the tide of harmful local budget cuts, but educators throughout the state want to be able to promise their students and parents that their local school will have the resources to meet the needs of all students for years to come. We can’t do that today,” said Education Minnesota President Denise Specht. “The way to break this two-year cycle of budget drama is to finally change the tax code so the richest Minnesotans and the biggest corporations pay their fair share for the schools and other services working families need.”
The budget does not raise additional revenue from the very wealthy, as initial proposals from the Minnesota House and governor did. Many details of the deal have not been decided. However, it is clear the agreement relies heavily on one-time money for pandemic recovery from President Joe Biden and Congress.
Legislative leaders did agree to increase state funding for preschools through high schools by $525 million over the next two years and $100 million for our colleges and universities.
Senate Republicans proposed $152 million in new funding for E-12 education, while House Democrats and the governor wanted $722 million and $750 million in new dollars respectively.
Legislative committees will decide the details of how that money will be spent by May 28 and reconvene a special session in June to finish the state’s two-year budget.
Education Minnesota encourages the Legislature to fund pre-kindergarten and other ongoing programs and increase the investment in policies that help the families hit hardest by the pandemic, including full-service community schools, ensuring hourly school workers are eligible for unemployment insurance, recruiting and retaining teachers of color, and hiring more counselors and other professionals to support the mental health of students.
There is also much work to be done in higher education to decide how specific systems will be funded and protect the quality of instruction in our state colleges and universities.
20,000 petition signatures and counting!
Education Minnesota’s advocacy continues into the special session, which includes continuing to collect signatures on our petition calling for fully funding public education.
At a We Make Minnesota rally on May 15, which Education Minnesota sponsored along with coalition partners, educators delivered the petitions signatures as of that date to Sen. Paul Gazelka, the Senate majority leader.
This fight is not over, so continue to sign and share the petition, found at www.edmnvotes.org.