Minnesota State Senate
State Senator Charles “Chuck” Wiger
</strong>117 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155-1606
Phone: (651) 296-6820
Early today, Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, Chair of the House Education Finance Committee, announced he would introduce legislation to require school districts to hold operating levy elections in even years only, claiming this would increase transparency for voters. Next Tuesday, a record number of schools are asking voters to help cover increasing education costs.
In response, Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, a ranking member of the Senate’s Education Committee, commented:
“This announcement by Rep. Garofalo is an unbelievable ruse to cover for the mess the GOP majorities created for our schools this past year. Changing when school districts can hold levy elections will not cover up for the fact that state funding—when adjusted for inflation—has decreased 13 percent since 2003 nor that the state spends 7.8 percent less per student now than it did just three years ago. The U.S. Department of Education reports that since 1970, Minnesota has sunk from 5th to 22nd in student spending. This proposal does absolutely nothing to help our students succeed or to close Minnesota’s persistent achievement gap.
This past session, the GOP majorities agreed to balance almost half of the state’s budget deficit on the backs of our school children by borrowing more than $2 billion from our schools. Rather than asking millionaires to pay their fair share in taxes, Republicans instead chose to steal billions of dollars from our children’s future. Regrettably, Republicans’ poor choices forced school districts to make drastic cuts, drain reserves, borrow more and pay interest costs, or ask taxpayers for more money. This is unacceptable for Minnesota.
Our state has a tradition of education excellence. The insistence by the GOP that they adequately increased education funding and now want to meddle in local control to cover for their mistakes is a slap in the face to our children, teachers and parents. We have the opportunity next session to do right by our schools. Proposing legislation that fiddles with local control and could actually cost school districts more money by requiring additional elections, is not the answer. The GOP majorities should know better.”</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table>