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Walz announces plan to use budget surplus for education

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 6:35 PM CST
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ST. PAUL, MN -- Minnesota’s governor announced plans Tuesday to reinvigorate the state’s education during the upcoming legislative session.

Governor Walz believes the state’s $7.7 billion budget surplus should be used to invest in the state’s future.

“It is why we centered and why we talk about how Minnesota needs to be the best state in the country for families to raise their children. We believe this budget does that,” said Gov. Walz.

The proposal contains a massive number of policies and programs that bolster the state’s child-care and education systems.

Part of the plan would expand access to child care and pre-K and assist families in tough financial situations to afford those services.

He also wants to boost the state’s education quality by investing an extra 2% of the budget.

The plan addresses new state-funded programs to address statewide staffing shortages among educators and allows each student access to free school breakfast and lunch.

Walz also hopes to expand access to mental and physical health resources for students and families statewide.

The plan also includes commitments to paid medical and family leave.

Elena Foshay with Duluth Workforce Development said that leave is important for parents needing time off work to care for sick kids.

“Having the opportunity to attend to those needs without losing paid time is really essential to keeping people employed,” said Foshay.

She said those resources could reinforce a workforce that’s struggling with staff shortages.

“There’s a workforce shortage, and we need as many working-age adults as possible to be able and ready and willing to go to work,” she said.

Walz wants the state to be one of the nation’s leaders in education.

“If Minnesota wants to stay competitive we need to continue to nurture, build-out and reimagine what early childhood looks like,” said Walz.

The surplus would theoretically allow Walz’s massive investment to pass without raising taxes.

“Everything you’re seeing proposed, including the money back in your pocket, hero pay, paying our bills, and having the strongest financial balanced budget in the state is all being done without raising one single tax,” he said.

The proposal has seen strong support from educators around the state, but some GOP leaders are pushing back.

In a statement, the Minnesota GOP said:

  • “With a $7.7 billion surplus, Minnesotans deserve permanent and meaningful tax relief. Instead, Gov. Walz is pushing massive new government spending and billions in tax hikes on businesses and workers who are already struggling with inflation and soaring energy costs.”

The state’s legislative session begins January 31.

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