Education funding is always a key issue at the Legislature. From my positions as both Chair of the Senate Education Committee (2017-2020) and Chair of the Senate Tax Committee (2021-2022) I have successfully introduced, negotiated, and ensured enactment of bills to fund our schools at record-setting levels. This can only be done by working with legislators from across the state and from each political party.
The results are a matter of public record. Our Minnesota state government budgets for two-years at a time, and I was the Chief Author of the 2017 and 2019 education finance bills that handily passed the Senate (the 2019 vote was unanimous) and that were both signed into law by the Governor who commented: “As a former teacher, I am proud to sign the bill to increase our investment in Minnesota’s students.” During these years, we also created the Ag2School Tax Credit in order to relieve the local property tax burden related to school construction in rural areas.
Contrary to the disinformation from my opponent, here are the facts. State of Minnesota funding for Early Childhood Education has tripled and K-12 funding has nearly doubled since I’ve been in the Senate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the total inflation rate is 32% during that time. It just isn’t true to say state funding for education hasn’t kept up with inflation.
An opportunity did present itself during this most recent legislative session to provide some supplemental funding in many budget areas including education. The House, Senate, and Governor all agreed on $1 billion in additional funding to the $21 billion in K-12 funding. The Senate proposed $975 million to address the special education cross-subsidy, which would have give school districts more flexibility. The House had other priorities and no agreement was reached.
We have excellent and praise-worthy schools in Minnesota. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to help make them so, and I will continue to do whatever I can to advance the learning opportunities for our students and to respect and uphold parent participation and involvement in our classrooms.