Budget deal may protect schools but doesn’t solve long-term funding problems in education

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. May 17, 2021 – The state budget deal announced Monday left open many decisions about funding public education while signaling to local districts that they should stop the current round of devastating cuts and layoffs. Education Minnesota President Denise Specht noted the deal also fails to sustainably invest in Minnesota schools. 

“Minnesota schools should be a place where every student can succeed, no exceptions. 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,” Specht said. “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 overarching budget deal between Gov. Tim Walz and the leaders of the Minnesota House and Senate does not raise additional revenue from the very wealthy, as initial proposals from the 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. 

“Our union’s petition for reversing years of underfunding and moving toward fully funding public education this year garnered more than 20,600 signatures,” Specht said. “While we’re disappointed the education spending in the final budget deal wasn’t closer to earlier budget proposals from the governor and the House, we are hopeful the final budget will limit layoffs and allow some schools to rehire educators who have already been pink slipped.” 

The Legislature is expected to reconvene in a special session in June to finish the state’s two-year budget. Before that, various legislative committees are deciding how to fund specific state programs, including those within E-12 and higher education. 

“Our union is encouraging 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, recruiting and retaining teachers of color, and hiring more counselors and other professionals to support the mental health of students,” Specht said. “In higher education, there’s a lot of work to be done to decide how specific systems will be funded and protect the quality of instruction in our state colleges and universities.” 

About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.

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