The newly merged Senate E-12 & Policy committee met last Thursday and took testimony from about 30 different organizations representing a wide variety of education interests. MREA Director of Legislative ActionSam Walseth was among the first to testify and asked the committee to go big on an E-12 investment this year.
Walseth noted the budget forecast indicates that Health & Human Services spending is scheduled to grow by $1.5 billion (13.9 percent) from the current biennium to the next. E-12 education programs, by comparison, are scheduled to increase $190 million (1.1 percent) over the same period. He also shared the requests for funding that they would hear that day in committee would total well past $1.5 billion for the biennium.
Walseth outlined MREA’s legislative issues including its top three priorities for this session, Those top priorities are ending the facility fallout, coordinating early learning and addressing the quiet teacher crisis. Several groups including MSBA, MASA, Principals and Education Minnesota mentioned the challenges finding and retaining high quality teachers in their testimony as well.
MREA also asked committee members for a cooling off period from new mandates and encouraged them to ensure flexibility in new policies they’re considering and to avoid one-size fits all approaches.