Minnesota is facing a $935 million budget deficit due to our state’s recent economic downturn. As the Legislature looks to make those targeted budget cuts, we need to ensure that we are not cutting those investments that pay-off in the future such as education. In 2003, when the state faced a larger budget deficit, the Legislature made some fairly deep cuts. Particularly hard hit was K-12 education. Fortunately, in 2007, with our final education bill of $800 million for Minnesota schools statewide, we were able to restore nearly all of the cuts made five years earlier. I am committed to seeing that, in fixing this year’s budget, we don’t lose the ground we gained last year.
Unfortunately, the unfair school funding system and the tough economy means tough times for all schools including those in District 25B. After years of cuts, there is little left to cut. Class sizes will likely increase, and students will receive fewer opportunities today than we did a generation or two before them. They deserve better.
That’s why I am supporting a measure (HF 2475) that would provide $49 million ($51 per student) in additional school funding statewide in 2009. Funding would come from an unused surplus leftover in the state’s Q-Comp funding program. Approval of this bill would help ease some of the pain at schools across our district. In all, schools in our area would receive roughly $700,000 in additional school funding in 2009.
Specifically, HF2475 would provide:
Belle Plaine will receive approximately – $76,347
Montgomery-Lonsdale will receive approximately – $55,896
New Prague will receive approximately – $179,826
Northfield will receive approximately – $199,053
Faribault will receive approximately – $204,867
These figures are taken from the 2007 enrollment data depicted by the MN Dept of Education on their website.
The situation our schools are facing is a long-term problem that needs a solid, long-term solution. And while this year’s proposal is a short-term fix, it is a necessary step to set the stage for a comprehensive education reform measure in the coming 2009 Legislative Session.
Your comments, questions and suggestions are always welcome.