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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL)

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Release: Minnesota House DFL passes historic investments for students, families, schools, and staff

Thursday, April 20, 2023

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the House DFL passed a sustaining education budget plan to deliver transformational investments to support our students and school staff as well as stabilize our public school funding. The spreadsheet and  bill language are available online. The vote was 70-60.

“While we cannot undo 20 years of underfunding in a single budget, this bill will provide needed stability for our schools, fund academic and wraparound supports for students, and make the critical investments our communities are counting on,” said Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins), chair of the House Education Finance Committee.

The bill provides a 4% per-pupil increase in the general education formula in 2024 and a 2% increase in 2025 for an investment totaling $710 million over the biennium. The bill also links the formula to inflation in all future years to help school districts have more predictability in their financial outlooks.

“All Minnesotan children deserve access to a great public education,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Our budget surplus gives us the opportunity to invest in our future, close opportunity gaps, and provide better support for our students and educators. 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.” 

In addition to the stability provided by linking the formula to inflation, this budget bill also reduces the Special Education cross-subsidy by nearly half with a $730 million investment.  The bill also eliminates the English Learner cross-subsidy by 2027 targeted to the school districts serving students with the highest needs with a $82 million investment in the next biennium, with another $272 million in Fiscal Years 2026-27.

“House DFLers are delivering support for students’ success, including using the best science-backed methods to teach reading,” said Rep. Laurie Pryor, chair of the House Education Policy Committee. “The education budget ensures all students learn skills such as financial literacy, ethnic studies, computer science, and civic engagement to help them become well-rounded individuals. I’m very proud of this legislation and look forward to how this vision will help our students – and educators – thrive.”

Another key part of closing Minnesota’s educational opportunity gaps is making schools a more welcoming learning environment for all students. The bill does this by delivering school districts $75 million in dedicated investments to hire school support staff like school counselors, psychologists and nurses in the next biennium, expanding to $75 million annually beginning in FY 2026. The budget expands the Full-Service Community Schools model to more than 75 more schools. It also includes measures to recruit and retain teachers of color and expand access to Indigenous education and diverse courses so students can more easily find role models who look like them in their curriculum and at the front of the classroom.

“Every child deserves a world-class education, but funding for public schools has not kept pace with inflation for decades. As a result, our schools are underfunded, under-resourced, and overcrowded,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long. “This budget bill makes a transformational commitment to our students and public schools by tying the funding formula to inflation. It shouldn’t matter where you live, what you look like, or what your background is – every single child deserves a world-class education in Minnesota and every student deserves opportunity to reach their full potential.” 

The House DFL’s budget would make menstrual products available for free in school bathrooms, provide grants so more schools can build gender-neutral restrooms and locker rooms, and increase the use of alternatives to exclusionary discipline so students of color and students with disabilities are not removed from their classrooms for behavior that is disproportionately overlooked with white peers.

“The disproportionate removal of students of color from their classrooms through suspension and expulsion is a significant contributor to our state’s opportunity gap, and we cannot expect to close that gap without making sure all students have an equal opportunity to learn,” said Rep. Mary Frances Clardy (DFL-Inver Grove Heights), an educator of over 27 years and the vice chair of the House Education Finance Committee.

“This is just one example of how this budget is designed to support every student in the state no matter where they live. I am very proud of the bill we put together and the positive impact it will have on all students and families across the state, and I’m thrilled with the inclusion of increased transportation funding for large geographic districts like Stillwater and Forest Lake,” said Rep. Josiah Hill (DFL - Stillwater), an educator of 24 years and the vice chair of the House Education Policy Committee.  “We have several strong provisions in this bill including a large investment in eliminating the special education cross subsidy.”

The bill also includes multiple provisions to ensure students are well-prepared for life after graduation by adding a personal finance course requirement for high school completion. Two in-demand careers are addressed in the budget, including the establishment of a working group to focus on improving Computer Science education, and funding for a grant program to develop an Emergency Medical Service career pathway for high school students.

Finally, the bill addresses teacher and school staff shortages by improving workplace protections. These include giving school staff a voice in class sizes during collective bargaining, ensuring hourly school workers can access Unemployment Insurance over the summer, providing funds to increase time every week for special education teachers to complete mandatory due process paperwork, and paid training time for paraprofessionals. Lawmakers also invest in “grow your own” programs to recruit and retain more teachers in our classrooms in both subject areas with a shortage of teachers and special education.