During a visit to a school on Tuesday, Governor Tim Walz gave few details about his goals for allocating state financing for education despite having fewer barriers to enacting his agenda now that the DFL controls all three branches of state government.
In spite of his denials, Walz acknowledged that free school lunch should be a statewide priority in Minnesota, that property taxes should be lowered, and that there are staffing shortages.
The recently reelected governor of Minnesota visited students at Lake Middle School in Woodbury. Walz spoke briefly with the press after taking photographs and fielding questions from students (such as, “Are you and Scott Jensen friends?”).
Walz spoke about the scarcity of qualified teachers, but he was vague when asked what policies his administration is actively supporting. Even though he could not provide any concrete numbers, Walz did say that he plans to utilize Minnesota’s $9 billion budget surplus to make “one-time” expenditures in areas of education that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic.
Everyone in the state wants strong, long-lasting schools that meet the needs of their children and their families, Walz said.
More than $3 billion in extra expenditure was passed by Minnesota House Democrats last year to address critical needs like as student mental health services and increasing the number of teachers of color.
Senate Republicans were not on board, and negotiations broke down. Last year, there was no school funding legislation that made it through the legislature.
On Tuesday, Walz proposed a more comprehensive plan to restructure school funding and ease the financial strain on local property owners, particularly in the cost of special education. Although federal and state governments mandate that schools accommodate students with disabilities, they do not adequately support special education. It is common practice for school districts to reallocate funds from other areas of the budget to pay for special education, but if there isn’t enough money in the district’s budget, the district will ask local homeowners for a higher property tax.
Walz has stated his support for free school meals, citing the financial strain that inflation has placed on Minnesota households.
Walz emphasized the need of “going for broke” rather than just “keeping the status quo” in this situation.