SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the chairs of the Minnesota House Education Finance, Policy, and Early Childhood committees announced a robust plan to provide new funding to support students, families, public schools, and school staff.
“For strong and stable schools, we must continue our commitment to getting our Minnesota students and families the resources they need to recover from the pandemic’s fallout,” said Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis), chair of the House Education Finance Committee. “All our students deserve a world class education and robust emotional support that meets their individualized needs.”
The bill’s mental health package, totaling $475 million, will address shortages of school support personnel that benefit students’ social, emotional, and physical health, and fund wrap-around services for students. House Democrats say their proposal will allow schools to hire more than 1,000 additional counselors, social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, and chemical dependency specialists.
“Minnesota students deserve every opportunity to succeed. House DFLers are working to provide the necessary support for students and educators, including student support staff like counselors and special education funding,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “It’s clear that the needs are great across our state, and we need to deliver for Minnesota’s students.”
Statewide, the difference between what it costs to provide special education services and what the state pays for those services is more than $700 million. The deficit in English Language Learner services is nearly $150 million. The House DFL education proposal provides more than $500 million annually over the next three fiscal years to significantly reduce the amount school districts pay to make up for these shortfalls.
“We can’t lose sight of how the pandemic has impacted our Black and Indigenous students and students with disabilities,” said Rep. Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), chair of the House Education Policy Committee. “If we want to close the achievement gap, it’s critical all of our students have equal access to learn.”
Democrats’ proposal expands opportunities for people of color and Indigenous people to pursue a career in teaching by expanding Grow Your Own Teacher Training Programs, which benefits students of color and Indigenous students who can see themselves in their educators. Access to ethnic studies curriculum is included in House DFLers’ education proposal. It also improves literacy and encourages schools to utilize non-exclusionary discipline. Data has linked declining graduation rates among Black students to expulsions and suspensions.
To help close the opportunity gap, Democrats want to create a statewide voluntary prekindergarten program for children who are least likely to have access to early learning. The program is estimated to cost $525 million from fiscal years 2023-2025.
“Opportunity gaps open well before children start school,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL – St. Paul), chair of the Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee. “Expanding access to early learning is one of the best ways to reduce disparities. Our pre-K proposal will put thousands of low-income and vulnerable children on the path to success in kindergarten, school, and life.”
On April 1, Senate Republicans announced a plan to fund public education by an additional $30 million. Republicans’ proposal includes $0 for student mental health.
“Students, families, and teachers are starting to recover from unprecedented disruptions to their lives, and they need stronger public schools to succeed. With this historic budget opportunity, Democrats want to support students at every level, but we can’t do it with Republican plans to shower tax benefits on those at the top," said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “We will never stop pushing for our kids to be the top priority in Minnesota, and no tax cut plan can ever create as much opportunity for success as can a great education.”
The House DFL proposal uses Minnesota’s historic budget surplus to provide $1.15 billion in additional education funding in fiscal year 2023 and $2.12 billion in fiscal years 2024 and 2025. Last year, the divided Legislature approved the largest formula increase for public schools in 15 years. The compromise budget funded public education by an additional $554.204 million in fiscal years 2022-2023 and $668.957 million in fiscal years 2024-2025. It included 2.45% and 2% increases in the per pupil funding formula in Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023, respectively.