The Minnesota Legislature adjourned May 23 with no deal to spend the state’s $9.25 billion surplus. As of press time, there was no plan for a special session to pass any of the proposals, including $1 billion for education.
In the end, Senate Republicans walked away from fulfilling their end of a bipartisan agreement that would have spent $4 billion on tax cuts, $1 billion on education, $1 billion on health care and human services, $450 million for public safety and the judiciary, and $1.5 billion on other spending.
Senate Education Chair Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, was charged with negotiating the details of the bipartisan agreement, announced May 16, with DFLers in the House. Instead, he failed to the gavel the committee together in the last 24 hours of the session.
Education Minnesota President Denise Specht said the failure of Senate Republicans was unacceptable. She called on Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, to honor his commitment, negotiate a K-12 education bill that meets the real needs of students, and agree to pass it into law during a short special session, which as of press time, did not happen.
“Senate Republicans made a billion-dollar promise to Minnesota students,” said Specht. “Students and educators are reeling from mental health crises. There’s a lack of substitute teachers and bus drivers. Students need extra attention to recover from the pandemic while our schools are losing too many experienced teachers to burnout. Senate Republicans have let every single student, family and educator down. There is no longer a bipartisan commitment to providing public schools that allow all students to pursue their dreams, with no exceptions.”
Education Minnesota members spent the session asking for the surplus to be spent on what schools and students need, especially as schools continue to face challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Educators told lawmakers that:
Shortages of substitutes, ESPs and bus drivers will get worse without higher pay.
Working conditions, including class sizes, are driving out experienced teachers.
College students aren’t going into teaching.
The mental health crisis among students and staff won’t fix itself.
Education Minnesota will continue to update members via email and on social media if any other news happens at the Capitol this year.
Now, the union turns its focus to November and electing pro-public education candidates who will fund our schools and give our students what they deserve.
How did Education Minnesota members get involved this session?
- Sent thousands of emails to stop bad bills, such as private school vouchers and the so-called “parents bill of rights,” which would have put more burden on educators.
- Hundreds connected with their local legislators during our virtual Lobby Days.
- Dozens came in person to the state Capitol in the final week of the session to talk to lawmakers about the importance of an investment in public education.
- Thousands advocated for improved retirement benefits and created Education Minnesota’s Pension Task force. The bills and advocacy on that topic will continue in future legislative sessions.
- Thousands sent emails asking for dedicated funding for student mental and physical health staff, such as counselors, licensed school nurses, psychologists and social workers.