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Walz signs education budget bill passed in special session

May 30, 2019 06:49 PM

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has signed a $20 billion education funding bill approved by lawmakers in last week's special session.

Walz signed the bill Thursday at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul. The bill includes an increase in per-pupil state aid to public school districts of 2% in each year of the two-year budget.

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The bill also includes $47 million to preserve 4,000 state-funded pre-kindergarten seats that were due to expire, and more money for tribal schools, special education and school safety.

Walz, a former teacher, said he is "proud to sign this bill to increase our investment in Minnesota's children and improve our schools."

But the Democratic governor added, "We won't stop until every child in Minnesota receives a high-quality education, regardless of their race or ZIP code."

Beyond the per-pupil funding increase, there's also $30 million for school safety grants and $91 million for special education.

Republican Senate Education Committee Chair Carla Nelson of Rochester called the education bill a "success," pointing out it provides more funding without tax increases.

"The governor and the House budgets, their goal, their original budget goals, required tax increases," Sen. Nelson told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

"About $12 billion over four years. The Senate approach with all the bills was that this is living within our means."

The bill is a big boost for many school districts, including St. Paul Public Schools, which had been facing a projected $3.1 million deficit.

"It's going to close our deficit," district superintendent Joe Gothard said. "With the additional, voluntary pre-K dollars, the special education cross-subsidy and the two and two (percent increases), we will not have a deficit."

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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Tom Hauser

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