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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL)

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Release: Minnesota House votes to deliver $3.3 billion in investments to students and schools

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives advanced a supplemental education plan to deliver three billion dollars’ worth of new investments to support students, families, public schools, and school staff. 

“All Minnesota students deserve a world class education and robust mental health support to meet their individualized needs,” said Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis), chair of the House Education Finance Committee. “We must continue our commitment to getting our Minnesota students and families the resources they need to recover from the past two and a half years and thrive well into the future.” 

The bill includes a focus on literacy and overall academic success, including the Governor’s BOLD literacy package and funding for Math Corps, as well as investments to ensure that children of color can see themselves in their curriculum through the Network for the Development of Children of African Descent and ethnic studies course work. Investments also include efforts to increase the number of schools providing free meals to all of their students, to help teachers develop the skills they need to keep students in the classroom, to build on last year’s investment to increase teachers of color and Indigenous teachers, and to provide students with the support they need to succeed in school.

The bill’s mental health package, totaling $475 million, will address the shortages of school support personnel that benefit students’ social, emotional, and physical health, and fund wrap-around services for students. The legislation provides dedicated funds to support hiring around 1,100 student support personnel so that students have greater access to school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses. 

“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.” 

The bill addresses the more than $700 million funding shortfall for special education services, as well as the nearly $150 million deficit in English Language (EL) Learner services. The House DFL’s education bill provides more than $500 million annually over the next three years to reduce the amount school districts pay to make up for these shortfalls. The investment in the special education cross-subsidy would reduce the cross-subsidy by over 55% of its current level, and the investment in the EL cross-subsidy would eliminate that cross-subsidy by 2026.

The bill also funds targeted support for the teachers and educational support professionals who serve students with special education needs by providing 20 hours each of paid training for paraprofessionals and paid time for special education teachers to complete required due process paperwork.

“We’ve built a bill that begins to address the needs of our students, especially those who are disproportionately missing out on opportunities in our education system,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson, chair of the House Education Policy Committee. “One important policy we’re including aims to tackle the disproportionate removal of Black, Indigenous, students of color l, and students with disabilities from the classroom, which is a key contributor to our state’s achievement gap. There are many good policy provisions in this bill, and I’m grateful for all the advocacy we received from Minnesotans to get this done for our students, families, teachers, and paraprofessionals.” 

The House Democrats’ bill expands opportunities for Black, Indigenous and Minnesotans of color to pursue a career in teaching by expanding the Grow Your Own Teacher Training Program, which benefits students of color and Indigenous students to see themselves in their educators. Access to ethnic studies curriculum and replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day is included in House DFLers’ education proposal. It also improves literacy and increases the use of non-exclusionary discipline and prevents the suspension and expulsion of students through grade three, except in situations where the student creates an immediate and substantial danger to self, surrounding persons, or property. 

Other significant policy provisions in the bill include expanding flexibility for school districts around online learning options, allowing teachers with a Tier 1 license to join the teacher bargaining unit, requiring courses in personal finance and government/citizenship, and a number of changes related to the educational experience of Indigenous students.

“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.”

Opportunity gaps open long before kindergarten. Access to early learning is one of the best ways to prevent them in the first place. House Democrats’ bill expands Early Head Start and awards early learning scholarships to more than 20,000 low-income and vulnerable infants and toddlers. Once these children turn four, they’ll have access to a statewide, voluntary pre-kindergarten program through local schools, Head Starts, and licensed child care providers. Together, these investments will put thousands of children on the path to success in kindergarten, school, and life.  

“Investments in the earliest years have the biggest payoff,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL – St. Paul), chair of the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee. “Early care and learning is critical to our state's success, both now and long into the future. The bill we passed today will help give thousands of children the great start they deserve, for the benefit of us all." 

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 $554.204 million in fiscal years 2022-2023 and $668.957 million in fiscal years 2024-2025, which included 2.45% and 2% increases in the per pupil funding formula in Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023, respectively.

In comparison, Senate Republicans have included 0.35% of the state’s $9.25 billion budget surplus to fund the resources Minnesota students and schools are counting on.