The Potluck

House DFL shares child care, education spending ideas

By: - January 25, 2022 4:14 pm

The Minnesota State Capitol building in downtown Saint Paul, with snow on the ground during autumn. Photo by Tony Webster.

Democratic state representatives rolled out a multibillion-dollar wish list Tuesday that they say represents what it would take to fully fund Minnesota’s major early childhood and K-12 education programs.

With the 2022 legislative session just days away, lawmakers are gearing up for negotiations over how to spend a projected $7.7 billion budget surplus. Leaders of the DFL-controlled state House argued during a news conference Tuesday that some of the funds should go toward the stressed child-care industry and shortfalls in special education and English language learner program funding.

“This projected $7.7 billion budget surplus gives us an opportunity to provide adequate funding in areas of the state budget that we compromised with Republicans on last year, and we compromised lower than what we would have liked,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park. 

Chairs of the House’s early childhood education and K-12 education committees didn’t put forth specific proposals Tuesday, saying that their goal was to shed light on unmet needs in those areas before the session began.

They shared, for example, that it would cost $870 million each year to eliminate the special education and English language learner cross-subsidy — the funding gap that results from districts providing required services for students with disabilities or students learning English, for which they do not currently receive enough state or federal funds. 

Lawmakers will have a better idea of their spending priorities and dollar amounts once the session is underway and committees discuss the proposals, Hortman said.

The House DFL’s announcement came just hours after Gov. Tim Walz unveiled a $5.1 billion proposal to increase funding for schools, expand early learning programs and implement a paid family leave program. House leaders said they believe their focus areas align with Walz’s policy goals.

Senate Republicans are set to share their priorities for the session Wednesday.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.