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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Peggy Bennett (R)

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Legislative News from Rep. Peggy Bennett

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Dear Friends,


Our latest state budget forecast, our state’s student reading crisis, and our shortage of special education teachers all garnered headlines this week. 



Minnesota’s record budget surplus continues to stay at an unprecedented high.


On Monday, economic experts projected Minnesota now has a $17.5 billion budget surplus. This takes into account the increased spending that has already been signed into law, as well as inflation which is estimated at $1.42 billion. Otherwise, the surplus total would have neared $20 billion.


According to the Minnesota Management and Budget Office, higher collections this fiscal year and higher profits raised the individual income and corporate franchise tax forecast. However, the statutory inclusion of inflation in the spending forecast offsets the gain in resources. 


Once again, we have further proof that too much money is being taken from taxpayers. It’s time to provide significant tax relief to Minnesotans, and that includes Social Security tax relief for all of Minnesota’s senior citizens as well as income tax relief for hard working Minnesotans.



Only HALF of Minnesota students can read at grade level. HALF!! This is a tragedy. This is a crisis equal to a natural disaster - only this disaster affects our entire geographic state and our most precious commodity, our children. Without the ability to read, there is little hope for success in life. We need to treat this reading failure as a state disaster and address it head-on and immediately. This is not the fault of teachers, students, parents, or even our schools. It is a system failure led by some of the largest reading curriculum publishing companies.


We have an amazing GOP legislator education team made up of teachers, administrators, school board members, and parents. Our team has come up with a Reading RESET plan for Minnesota based on the decades of proven Science of Reading research. It has been a pleasure for me, as a former longtime elementary school teacher, to help lead this amazing team.



Please click here to watch our press conference to learn about our Reading RESET plan to help get our students back on track to be successful readers. (The presentation starts at the 3:30 mark.)  



On Wednesday, I went before the House Education Policy Committee to present my bill which is intended to help increase the number of licensed special education teachers in our schools. (There is currently a huge shortage for special education teachers in our state.) I worked with local special education administrators to design this bill.


Under my bill, school districts or charter schools may apply for a grant to partner with an approved teacher preparation program, which may be an alternative preparation program, to provide tuition assistance or stipends for program participants. Eligible participants include “locally grown” tier 1 or 2 teachers, paraprofessionals, or other unlicensed staff demonstrating a willingness to be a special education teacher after program completion.


My bill passed in the Education Policy Committee and will now head to Education Finance. 



This week I was blessed to be joined at the Capitol by special friends and constituents, the Bellrichard family… Tami, Dan, Wayne, and his daughter, Tasia. It has been one of Wayne’s wishes to come to the Capitol for a tour and to experience the legislature in action. He got to do that today. Wayne is an extraordinary man. He is currently battling cancer and is one of the strongest people I know; a never give up attitude. It was great to have Wayne and his family visit!



Have a good weekend,