Budget forecast shows opportunity to fully fund public education, transform the tax code
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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. Dec. 7, 2021 – The projected $7.7 billion surplus reported Tuesday gives the Minnesota Legislature an unprecedented opportunity to put a down payment on fully funding public education at a time when educators are at a breaking point.
Funding for public schools was at crisis levels even before the pandemic – the state’s share hasn’t kept pace with inflation for almost two decades. That means educators spend their spare time asking local taxpayers to pass levies to make up the difference and some still don’t make enough to afford their bills or even health insurance.
“Public schools should be places where children can learn the skills they will need to live and lead in the diverse and changing society they will inherit from us,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “But right now, many students attend schools that lack basic resources and have staffing shortages because educators are worked to exhaustion and leaving the profession. Now is the time to use the surplus to invest in students and transform every school into a wonderful place to learn and work.”
Minnesota’s budget outlook has been much stronger than anticipated during the COVID-19 pandemic. State economists said growth in corporate profits and income were the main drivers of additional revenue.
Specht said the surplus illustrates the need for legislators and Gov. Tim Walz to methodically transform the state’s tax code to make sure everyone pays their fair share without the pressures of a budget deficit.
“The economy is rigged to benefit the wealthy and big corporations, which is why working families are left behind and not experiencing an economic recovery,” Specht said. “Minnesotans need to join together and demand better for our communities. The wealthiest Minnesotans and largest corporations need to pay what they owe through taxes so we can fully fund our schools, make college affordable, ensure quality healthcare for anyone who needs it and provide stability for Minnesota families – no exceptions.”
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.