Education Minnesota, the organization representing 70,000 educators across the state, is praising Governor Mark Dayton’s plan to invest the projected state budget surplus in public schools, including free pre-kindergarten programs for all four-year-olds.
The forecast from Minnesota Management and Budget released in late February showed the state’s previously forecast $1 billion surplus for the next biennium has jumped to nearly $1.9 billion. Dayton proposes to spend much of the projected surplus on education.
Education Minnesota President Denise Specht said the plan calls for “significant new investments in pre-K, special education and expanding the teaching workforce.”
“Gov. Dayton is investing education dollars where they’re needed – diversifying and expanding the teaching corps, reducing the unfunded mandates for special education services and preparing our youngest students for kindergarten and beyond,” Specht said. “Smart priorities like these are why he’s known as the ‘education governor.’”
“We’re excited to learn more about the governor’s teacher workforce and retention program,” Specht said. “We’ve supported loan forgiveness programs for teachers in hard-to-staff areas in the past. Our local in St. Paul recently negotiated a program in which the district helps education support professionals earn teaching licenses. We believe both are good ideas and we would like to see them available statewide.”
Specht said educators are ready to work with legislators to fine-tune the budget and identify other needs, including increases in the per-pupil funding for districts, full and fair funding of the Teacher Development and Evaluation law and additional services in high-needs schools.