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Education Minnesota calls for Legislature to use small budget surplus to invest in educators

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. Dec. 6, 2023 – Reversing the pervasive shortage of educators in Minnesota’s public education systems should be a top priority for the 2024 Legislature as lawmakers consider how to spend a small budget surplus forecasted on Wednesday, said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. 

“From kindergarten to campus, Minnesota’s educators are being burned out covering for open jobs that can’t be filled at current compensation levels and working conditions,” Specht said. “We’re asking lawmakers to dedicate money toward making these jobs more attractive, with higher pay, reduced workloads, more affordable health insurance and significant pension reform. Minnesota’s students and educators deserve better than the current learning and working conditions at many sites.” 

The Minnesota Management and Budget Office predicted a $2.4 billion surplus in the current biennium. However, it also forecast a “structural imbalance” for the budget that starts in July 2025, which will limit how much new money the next Legislature can responsibly spend in 2024 to less than $100 million. Wednesday’s forecast included higher-than-expected spending on education and human services, the two biggest categories in the state budget. 

Despite historic new investments in public education during the 2023 session of the Legislature, many E-12 school boards and superintendents have made lowball offers in the current round of contract negotiations. Often, these offers have been less than the rate of inflation and lower than the spiking costs of health insurance. Minnesota’s teacher pension system does not provide the necessary incentives to keep veteran educators in the classroom and requires major investments by the state government to pay for reforms. 

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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