Republicans are celebrating a two-year education budget agreement that includes zero school-choice policies and does nothing to protect girls’ sports from the transgender craze — both key priorities for grassroots conservatives.
Sen. Roger Chamberlain, Republican chair of the Senate Education Committee, touted the fact that the bill includes the largest student funding formula increase in 15 years.
“Our philosophy has been consistent from the first day of session: we are going to focus on students, not systems; on parents and families, not lobbyists and institutions. I am proud to say this education budget achieves those goals,” he said in a press release.
Chamberlain was joined in his enthusiasm by Education Minnesota, the state’s teachers union, whose president said the budget agreement “makes smart investments in recruiting and training teachers of color and protects thousands of pre-K seats all over the state.”
Education Minnesota President Denise Specht pointed out that the roughly $555 million in new spending in the bill is $400 million higher than the Senate GOP’s initial budget target but $200 million lower than the House DFL’s proposal.
She did express disappointment in some aspects of the budget and said it fails to address the “long-term funding needs for public schools in Minnesota.”
Chamberlain has spent the past few weeks rallying with supporters of Education Savings Accounts, a school-choice policy that would allow state money to follow children to private alternatives if their parents choose to pull them from public schools.
According to the Minnesota House’s Session Daily, the education budget agreement does not include Education Savings Accounts.
Nor does it include a prohibition on biologically male athletes competing in female sports, something conservatives across the country have been fighting to enact. Bills to this effect were introduced in both the House and Senate.
One of the few conservative victories in the budget agreement is its delay in the implementation of the Department of Education’s controversial social studies standards.
Other items in the $21 billion bill include a program to increase teachers of color, funding for student literacy efforts, and funding for student digital well-being programs and other mental health initiatives.
“This is a fantastic bill that is a huge victory for Minnesota students, families, teachers, and local schools, and I look forward to getting it passed as soon as possible,” Chamberlain said.
Lawmakers have just a few days to pass their two-year state budget bills before a June 30 deadline triggers a government shutdown.