St. Paul, MN – Today, House DFLers discussed the enormous needs facing Minnesotans in the areas of child care and early learning, K-12, and higher education, and committed to exploring bold proposals that close opportunity gaps, lower costs, and improve economic security for Minnesota children, students, and families.
“All Minnesotans deserve a high-quality education from cradle through job training and career,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Our budget surplus gives us the opportunity to invest in our future, close opportunity gaps, provide better support for our students and educators, and begin tackling our workforce shortage. It’s clear that the needs are great across Minnesota, and we will be working to ensure all of our children have every opportunity to succeed.”
“All of us face uncertainty this year, especially working parents. With this surplus, we have an opportunity to permanently help families by lowering the cost of child care,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “By making child care a priority, Democrats are supporting workers, families and the small businesses depending on them to be on the job. Republican lawmakers’ plans to offer trickle-down tax cuts for the rich will leave workers and families where they are today — struggling and uncertain. We can do better.”
Child care and early learning were in deep crisis even before the pandemic - unaffordable and inaccessible for families and paying poverty wages to those doing this crucial work. To provide high-quality early care and learning that is affordable for families, with livable wages to teachers, would cost about $2 billion annually. This session, the Early Childhood Committee will advance a series of proposals to help meet this need.
”Investments in the earliest years have the biggest payoff for all of us,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL - St. Paul), chair of the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee. “The forecasted budget surplus is a historic opportunity for these early investments, so that parents can work, employers can expand, and children can thrive with the great start that they deserve.”
Special education and English language learner funding shortfalls are one of the biggest cost drivers Minnesota school districts face statewide. The K-12 Education Finance Committee will look into ways to close these funding gaps to ensure students have access to these critical services they need to be successful.
“All our kids deserve a world class education, no matter where they live, what they look like, or how they learn,” said House K-12 Education Chair Jim Davnie. “The pandemic has shown how fragile our family support and education system is. We have the resources to fix what is broken in our Minnesota education system and that is what the House DFL is committed to doing.”
House DFLers are also committed to ensuring that all students get a quality education and have the necessary supports to be successful. K-12 Education Policy Chair Ruth Richardson is renewing her committee’s efforts to recruit and retain more teachers of color in the classroom, expand social and emotional learning and mental health support, and more services for students with disabilities.
“The current status quo in education isn’t getting us any closer to shrinking the widening opportunity gap for our students in Minnesota,” said K-12 Education Policy Chair Ruth Richardson. “We have the chance to make positive, transformational progress for our kids, especially for BIPOC students and learners with disabilities who have been left behind for too long. Our committee is ready to hit the ground running this session to deliver these policy proposals for Minnesota’s students.”
To address declining enrollment, the House Higher Education Committee will explore increasing state grant awards, reducing tuition at Minnesota State colleges and universities, making two-year public colleges tuition-free for Minnesota residents, and reviewing student loan debt relief strategies.
”All Minnesotans deserve the opportunity to achieve their hopes and dreams,” said Higher Education Chair Connie Bernardy. “Our committee is focused on making college and post-secondary options more affordable for students and families, and providing the tools needed for campuses and students to thrive and be healthy.”
A fact sheet with more information is available here. The legislative session begins January 31, 2022.