Minnesota Education system falling flat, but Teachers Union lobbying pays off

MNStateEducation Minnesota has already spent $565,763 to lobby the legislature this year and their efforts paid off as the K-12 budget was increased by $525 million over the next two years which exceeded Governor Dayton’s original $373 million request. About $450,000 of the lobbying expenditure was spent on media advertisements pushing for increased funding to pay for the Governor’s universal PreK program for all Minnesota 4-year-olds.  The program didn’t pass, which would have increased union membership by nearly 5,000 members. The 70,000-member union reported twenty-seven lobbyists in its most recent report to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board.

Of these lobbyists, many are making six-figure salaries at Education Minnesota according to 2013 numbers:

David Aron, Attorney, $97,771

Darrell Baty, Field Staff $119,664

Nicole Blissenbach, Attorney, $103,475

Jodee Buhr, Lobbyist $98,478

Andrea Cecconi, Research Specialist, $107,624

Debra Corhouse, Attorney, $124,781

Douglas Dooher, Public Affairs Specialist $113,512 (brother of Education Minnesota President Thomas Dooher)

Sarah Ford, Higher Education Staff, $88,798

Garnet Franklin, Ed Issues Specialist, $117,116

Jane Gilles, Ed Issues Specialist, $97,035

Jess Anna Glover, Attorney, $106,265

James Haggar, Political Action Specialist, $82,677

James Meyer, State Political Org, $102,362

Paul Mueller, Vice President, $146,245

Mary Perry, Ed Issues Specialist, $96,701

Brandon Rettke, Director Public Affairs, $139,343

Rodney Rowe, Treasurer, $21,600

Denise Specht, President, $31,019

Gary Westorff, Director Field Services, $158,802

Paul Winkelaar, Mobilization Specialist, $91,812

(Seven registered Education Minnesota lobbyists didn’t have salary information listed as of 2013 per UnionFacts)

In addition to their lobbying efforts, Education Minnesota spent nearly $3 million during the 2014 election cycle to help elect union-friendly candidates.

The Minnesota Department of Education released numbers this week which showed no overall student improvement in math, reading, or science in standardized tests.  Only 60% of students met state math and reading standards.  Will another half-a-billion dollars into the system that produced these results pay off?  Taxpayers will have to wait and see.