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During this morning’s Gubernatorial debate, which focused on education, Republican candidate Tom Emmer released the second piece of his budget proposal. He used the words “”hold K-12 funding harmless” both in his press release and as he debated DFLer Mark Dayton and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner. He didn’t define what he meant by “hold … harmless”. But Emmer’s decision to repay public schools $1.7 billion in 2014 apparently creates no harm. The accounting shift was made in the last legislative session by Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty to balance the budget.
Emmer also failed to address the fact that the $13.3 billion in funding for K-12 education that he proposed for the FY2012-13 biennium falls over $2.3 billion short of the $15,621,575,000 required for state K-12 education during that period by the Minnesota Department of Management — equivalent to a 14.9% cut.
The debate was held in St. Paul and sponsored by the Association of Metropolitan School Districts. Candidates were asked about their views on vouchers, school desgregation, alternative licensure, the creation of a state Board of Education, mandatory statewide health insurance for educators, and increasing operating levies without voter approval.
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Press release from the Emmer Campaign:
Emmer Budget Plan, Part 2:
Tom Emmer’s promise to Minnesota’s children
Hold K–12 funding harmless, repay shift beginning in FY 2014–15
Tom Emmer today released the second part of his budget plan at a candidate forum sponsored by the Association of Metropolitan School Districts.
“Next to creating new jobs in the current tough economy, our highest priority as a state must be educating our kids well,” said the Republican nominee for governor. “In tough times, I believe we must prioritize state government spending for the most important public services: I believe our children’s education is fundamental to our future success. As governor, I will protect classroom funding.”
Emmer noted that Minnesota is competing in a global economy in which business competitiveness and educational excellence are preeminently important.
“My budget promise for public education is two-fold: First, ensure that K–12 funding is held harmless in the next biennium and second, expect improved results through broad reforms,” the GOP nominee said.
“We will begin to repay the $1.4 billion education shift in FY 2014. We will do so faster by growing our economy and putting Minnesotans back to work which is why we must enact our jobs creation agenda,” added Emmer.
Emmer said that he envisions these reforms to include initiatives related to teacher effectiveness, kindergarten readiness, redesign of teacher preparation programs and enhancement of our accountability system for schools.
Tom Emmer’s Budget Plan for Improving Education
1. Hold K–12 education funding harmless in the next biennium.
State general fund spending for FY 2010–11 is set at $13.3 billion. Tom Emmer is committed to ensure that this critical spending of the budget is not reduced.
2. Reprioritize some existing K–12 funding to address critical needs.
Approximately 40% of the state’s general fund spending is for K–12, some changes in priorities can be accomplished without undermining local school districts’ effort.
Redirect funding from existing state child care and basic sliding fee child care program to early child education in order to ensure all children are ready for kindergarten.
Create urban school district empowerment zones and reduce state mandates by allowing school districts to have greater authority to operate their districts.
Reducing state mandates for all school districts.
3. Insist on major reforms to improve classroom instruction and learning.
Minnesotans throughout the state take pride in their local schools, but they also expect more from them. Tom Emmer believes that reform of K–12 education is essential to maintain Minnesotans’ ability to:
Raise academic standards.
Ensure accountability for results.
Ensure effective teachers in every classroom.
4. Repay the education funding shift.
If elected Tom Emmer will begin repay the $1.4 billion education shift in FY 2014. By enacting the Emmer Jobs Agenda and putting Minnesotans back to work, the economy will grow and repayment may be triggered more quickly.