Education investment gives state an advantagePublished 11:49am Wednesday, April 24, 2013
On Tuesday, DFLers in the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a comprehensive K-12 education bill that makes historic investments in our children’s education. On Wednesday, House lawmakers will hold a robust discussion and vote on a tax bill that pays for those investments.
This legislative session has been devoted to the connection between strengthening Minnesota’s future by making targeted investments today.
DFL lawmakers in the House of Representatives have a plan that clearly communicates Minnesota’s needs, how we plan to pay for them, and the outcomes we expect to generate.
Let’s start by taking a look at one of Minnesota’s core needs: building the world’s best workforce by providing every student with a high-quality education.
Over the years, we’ve slipped from being one of the top 10 states in K-12 education funding to 22nd, which has forced some school districts to take drastic measures such as adopting four-day school weeks. Those kinds of actions shortchange our kids and lead to worse academic outcomes. For example, our four-year graduation rates have slipped to 29th in the nation.
In order to compete in an increasingly global economy and attract more businesses to set up shop in Minnesota, we need a well-educated workforce. Over the past decade, it’s become clear that we cannot cut our way to economic growth. Instead, we need to put more resources into our classrooms so students can obtain the skills and knowledge that lead to greater academic success.
The House DFL’s K-12 education budget is designed to move Minnesota forward by fully funding all-day Kindergarten, investing in early learning childhood scholarships, and increasing the basic funding formula for K-12 schools by $315 million. We will also pay back the remaining school shift balance of $854 million in the next two years.
This plan will make a big difference for students in our region. For example, here is a breakdown of funding increases per pupil in area school districts over the next two years:
—$671 per student for Austin public schools.
—$516 per student for LeRoy public schools.
—$589 per student for Grand Meadow public schools.
—$568 per student for Southland public schools.
—$687 per student for Lyle public schools.
Next, let’s examine how our tax bill pays for those investments.
Our plan pays back the $854 million IOU to our schools through a temporary income tax surcharge on only the wealthiest 0.5 percent of Minnesotans (taxable income greater than $500,000 per year for joint filer). The temporary surcharge expires once the remaining school shift balance is paid off in full, which would happen within the next two years.
There are other components of the tax plan, one of which raises additional revenue used to pay for new investments in our students by increasing the income tax rate to 8.49 percent on the wealthiest 1.1 percent of individuals (taxable income greater than $400,000 per year for joint filers).
Lastly, here are the outcomes we expect to generate from our investments:
Our plan is designed to close Minnesota’s achievement gap, reach a 100 percent high school graduation rate, 100 percent literacy by third grade, and 100 percent college and career readiness by graduation — all by 2027, which is when the youngest group of students benefitting from this plan would graduate.
These are ambitious goals, but reaching them is well worth the investment. At the end of the day, they give Minnesota an economic advantage and create long-lasting shared prosperity for the people of our state.
If you have any questions about the House K-12 education bill or tax bill, please contact me by phone at 651-296-4194, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by postal mail at 487 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.