DFL lawmakers eyeing state surplus for early education investment bill

Updated: February 18, 2020 01:49 PM

Early childhood education is yet again a top priority for DFL lawmakers. As the 2020 legislative session gets underway, they're beginning public hearings on their $500 million education bill – named the 'Great Start for Minnesota Children Act.'

House members are hoping to get the cash from the state's $1.3 billion surplus, but Republicans in the Senate have said they'd like to use that money for tax cuts – specifically for Social Security – and savings.

Tuesday morning, bill sponsors and DFL lawmakers were joined by the public, educators and program leaders, who all would benefit from the bill's passing.

A few branches in education – specifically early childhood education – the money would be used for include:

  • Early learning scholarships
  • Child care assistance
  • Voluntary pre-kindergarten funding
  • Provider support

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Part of the testimony was from a first-grade teacher from Fridley. She used to be in early childhood education, but said she left, "with a heavy heart," as she feared of being let go. Lack of funding fueled that fear.

DFL leaders who support this say there are a couple of big reasons to spend the money on this: it may not be there in the future, and an investment into a child's education is an investment for a better future.

Senate Republicans also want to put a focus on education. Their plan does not include using money from the surplus, but working on a reform (instead of major funding). They have said they'd like to use money from the surplus for tax cuts – specifically for Social Security –and to stash some away in savings.

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Ben Henry

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