Rep. Patricia Mueller: Majority’s education budget falls far short

Published 5:55 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2023

This past legislative session, we had an opportunity to make real, positive change in our school districts. Students deserve the best education they can possibly get, and with an $18 billion budget surplus and many people hoping to improve our local school districts, we were in a position to do just that. Unfortunately, the House and Senate majorities instead blocked out the voice of the minority, along with the voices of thousands of superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, and more that expressed serious concerns about their education budget bill. 

The education bill that was signed into law included 65 new mandates on schools, many of which were unfunded. It instead pays for 50 new Minnesota Department of Education employees and hands over $51 million to unaccountable nonprofits. It removes grade level reading proficiency requirements by third grade and severely underfunds important initiatives like access to mental health care and improving literacy rates for every child in Minnesota.

Because House and Senate Democrats would not listen to the voices of those who expressed concerns about their bill, House Republicans created our own plan in collaboration with educators, parents, and our local communities. As a result, we put forward a strong plan that puts students first, strengthens our school districts, and empowers local schools and their educators.

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Our plan would have given $1.1 billion directly to school districts and would remove mandates that will cause financial harm to local school districts. Our goal was to empower local districts to innovate and create plans based on their own students, instead of mandating a top-down, one-size-fits-nobody plan like the House and Senate majorities passed.

In our local school districts, the per-student funding would have been as follows in comparison to the DFL’s plan:

• Hayfield: $458 more per student

• Austin: $413 more per student

• Grand Meadow: $371 more per student

•Lyle: $334 more per student

• Southland: $552 more per student

• Blooming Prairie: $454 more per student

•Glenville-Emmons: $241 more per student

These additional dollars would allow schools to decide where they could do the most good – whether it be for teachers, materials, paraprofessionals, student mental health care, school safety, or other improvements.

We all want students to succeed and schools to be strong, but the legislative majority and minority proved that we have very different perspectives on how to make that happen. I am extremely disappointed in the lack of collaboration and bipartisanship this session, especially in light of the GOP’s many attempts to work in good faith with the majority to support students, families, and schools. I plan to continue my work on improving education next session, because Minnesota’s students and schools deserve better.