One day after Gov. Mark Dayton released his budget proposal, Senate committee members were pressing Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius with their concerns over his education recommendations — particularly the lack of funding for school capital facilities, inflationary increase to the basic education formula and teacher evaluation.
Commissioner Cassellius laid out Gov. Dayton’s education priorities — which emphasized early education — during Wednesday’s Senate Budget Division Committee.
An investment of $109 million to expand voluntary public prekindergarten education statewide and early learning scholarships was one of the most attention-grabbing of Dayton’s education budget recommendations. Dayton’s budget also included more than $19 million for Head Start.
While the budget included a 1 percent increase for the K-12 basic funding formula for each of the next two years (a $174 million total), several committee members peppered Cassellius about why the governor was moving forward with new programs — instead of providing funding for school buildings and teacher evaluation.
“This budget does not meet the needs of Minnesota school districts and Minnesota families,” Sen. Eric Pratt said. “What about the commitments we already made?”
Cassellius defended the governor’s vision, stating that this budget focuses on the state’s “vulnerable students,” rather than buildings and teachers.
“With this budget proposal, this would be a cut to school districts because it’s not keeping up with inflation,” Clausen said. “I am worried about the budget’s implications at the local level.”