Children and Families Top Governor Dayton’s Budget Priorities

/ 26 January 2015 / Shawna
The Office of the Governor Blog, January 27, 2015 

With $1 billion budget surplus, Governor Dayton proposes bold new investments in education

ST. PAUL, MN – After a decade of deficits, state leaders are now facing a $1 billion budget surplus created by Minnesota’s strong and growing economy. As Minnesota begins the discussion about where to invest the state’s budget surplus, Governor Mark Dayton today proposed a two-year budget that would make bold new investments in education, put more money in the pockets of working families, and make long-overdue investments in the state’s aging and underfunded transportation system.

“Minnesota’s future success – the health of our families, the vitality of our communities, and the prosperity of our state – will depend upon our making excellent educations available to all Minnesotans,” said Governor Dayton. “That is exactly what my budget proposal aims to do.”

Governor Dayton’s budget proposal, released in detail today, would invest Minnesota’s budget surplus in creating a free, voluntary PreK learning program for all 4-year-olds, and increasing funding for every K-12 school in Minnesota. Additionally, the Governor’s budget proposal would invest in higher education to make it more affordable for Minnesota students and their families, deliver $100 million in child care tax credits for working families, and make other crucial investments in children and the middle-class.

“Our budget priorities are clear: provide excellent, affordable educations for every student, and give Minnesota families the support they need to raise happy, healthy children,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “We cannot resolve all the state’s many pressing needs in just one budget. But these bold new investments would make an important difference in the lives and educations of many thousands of young people and families. They would set our state on course for an even brighter future.”

Excellent Educations for Every Student

When Governor Dayton took office four years ago, he promised Minnesotans that he would increase funding for education every year he was governor – no excuses, no exceptions. Over the last four years, the Governor and Legislature invested $895 million in PreK-12 education. The two-year budget introduced today delivers again on that promise, investing an additional $373 million in PreK-12 education. It would also provide $93 million for initiatives that would improve our higher education system, and make it more affordable for Minnesota families. These bold new investments would help ensure every Minnesota student receives an excellent education.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the vision Governor Dayton shared today with his budget that puts children and education first,” said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “Not only is he keeping his promise to make education funding a priority every year he is in office, but he is doing it in a way that will transform our efforts to help all children succeed. Every single child matters in this budget – no matter their race, zip code or economic circumstance – and with it, we help give every Minnesota student the opportunity for an excellent education from start to finish.”

Statewide PreK – The Governor’s budget would invest $109 million to provide 31,000 four-year-olds access to free, high-quality PreK learning opportunities.

More Funding for Every School – The Governor’s budget would invest $373 million in PreK-12 schools statewide, increasing the per-pupil funding formula to $5,948 by 2017. It would give local school districts the resources and flexibility to meet the needs of their students and classrooms – from lowering class sizes, hiring new counselors, investing in technology, or providing other needed programs and services.

Tackling the Achievement Gap – In addition to statewide PreK, the Governor’s budget would invest in a multi-layered approach to narrow the state’s achievement gap. It would eliminate the current Head Start waiting list, provide support to help all students read well, target educational support to parents of at-risk children ages 0-8, make additional investments in English Language Learning, and more.

Healthy Schools, Healthy Kids – The Governor’s budget includes important new investments in school nutrition and behavioral health in our schools. It would provide free breakfasts for all PreK-3 students, fund in-school programs to improve student behavior, and support parents of at-risk children.

Investing in Higher Education – In 2013, the Governor and Legislature reversed a decade of funding cuts, investing $250 million in initiatives to make higher education more affordable for hundreds of thousands of students. This year, the Governor’s budget would invest an additional $93 million to hold down tuition growth at the University of Minnesota, expand the State Grant Program, continue reciprocity arrangements with neighboring states and improve research outcomes at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Investing in Children and Families
Governor Dayton’s proposed budget would invest an additional $144 million in children and families over the next two years. Those new investments would help make high-quality child care more affordable for 130,000 low- and middle-income families, and provide better services to low-income families and at-risk children in Minnesota. These proposals would put more money in the pockets of working families, and help ensure all children receive the care and support they need to succeed in school and life.

“Governor Dayton’s budget proposal would provide important, targeted investments to improve the lives of children, and to support strong and healthy families in Minnesota,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “These new and needed investments would help ensure all Minnesota children receive the support and services they need to succeed in school, and live safe, healthy, and productive lives.”

The following is a brief overview of Governor Dayton’s proposed investments in children and families:

Child and Dependent Care Credit – Minnesota is the 4th-most expensive state for child care in the nation, with annual care costs totaling over $10,800 for one child. The Governor’s budget proposal would invest $99.9 million in expanding the Child and Dependent Care Credit, making child care more affordable for 130,000 low- and middle-income families. The average family would save $429 per year.

Supporting Children and Families – The Governor’s budget would also invest an additional $44 million to improve access to high-quality child care for low-income families, provide additional outreach to parents of at-risk children, increasing the state’s investment in children’s mental health services, and enhancing the state’s child protection efforts.

Fixing Minnesota’s Aging, Underfunded Transportation System
For years, state leaders have failed to adequately fund Minnesota’s highways, roads, bridges, and public transit systems. Insufficient funding has left them inadequate, congested, and needing repairs. That is why Governor Dayton yesterday proposed a straightforward, honest solution to fix Minnesota’s aging transportation systems. The Governor’s proposal would create an estimated 119,000 new jobs, and build the infrastructure necessary to meet the demands of a growing population and an expanding state economy.

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Additional information about Governor Dayton’s budget proposal is available online. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.