Walz seeks paid family leave, expanded child care in proposed budget

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Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan announced a new budget package proposal which they say will help support children and families.

The proposal announced Tuesday suggests expanding child care access, investing in a paid family leave program, as well as providing funds for student mental health and student/teacher academic support services.

Specifically, Walz and Flanagan propose expanding public pre-K child care access through a mix of school-based programs, Head Start programs, child care center programs and family child care programs. Walz and Flanagan claim the expansion could help more than 23,000 pre-K students.

Additionally, Walz and Flanagan are proposing a “Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program,” which they say will help eligible, low-income Minnesotans with child care costs. Walz and Flanagan say their proposal would also increase provider payment rates to the current federal standard.

Furthermore, Walz and Flanagan suggest creating a “Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program,” which they claim would help support Minnesotans needing time off work for family care.

For teachers, Walz and Flanagan suggest building recruitment through postsecondary teacher prep or state-approved educator programs and licensure. They also propose covering costs for the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam and teachers’ first Professional Teacher Licenses. Walz and Flanagan also suggest retention bonuses for teachers new to educating.

In terms of student mental health, Walz and Flanagan propose putting $77 million over the next three fiscal years toward hiring counselors, social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, and chemical dependency specialists in schools across the state.

View the proposal breakdown here.

The proposal announced Tuesday is part of the “Budget to Move Minnesota Forward” packages Walz and Flanagan are announcing.

Last week, Walz and Flanagan announced a package aimed at expanding economic opportunity, which would include $700 million in direct payments to Minnesotans through “Walz Checks.”

RELATED: Walz announces budget package, which includes direct payments to Minnesotans

Another proposal, which has yet to be formally announced, is expected to address protecting the health and safety of Minnesotans.