Several education groups today voiced support for Gov. Mark Dayton's budget which would increase funding for early childhood learning, all-day kindergarten and special education, among other priority areas.
Schools have never recovered from losing the general education levy in 2001 and shifting more responsibility to the state, said Mary Cecconi of the group Parents United for Public Schools.
"Minnesota schools have the dollars they had to expend in 2003. We've lost a decade and we just can't afford to lose anymore," Cecconi said. "Gov. Dayton's tax proposal is the first step we've seen that confronts these lost dollars."
Critics say the state cannot afford increased spending for all the governor's proposed initiatives when the state already has a budget shortfall.
The governor's budget would provide nearly $300 million in additional funding for education.
Boosted funding for special education is particularly needed, Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Jay Haugen said.
"We take so many dollars from all of our other programs to fund the unfunded portion of special education that the governor's budget makes, I think, a huge inroad at least for our state in making that happen," Haugen said. "Hopefully that will be a strong message to our federal government that they need to step up as well."
The gap between federal government mandated costs of special education and what it pays for can range from $600 to $1,000 per student. The Dayton budget would increase special education funding to schools by $125 million.