Two reports make pitch for more education funding

Students arrive for a tour at the state Capitol
A group of students from Edina brave winter weather on a visit to the Minnesota State Capitol building in St. Paul.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

As lawmakers head to the Capitol next week to face a massive budget deficit, two new reports are making the case that lawmakers need to put more money into education.

One report, from the Minnesota Budget Project, concludes what many school leaders have said for years: That state funding hasn't kept up with inflation this decade.

Analyst Katherine Blauvelt says the state dropoff has resulted in higher property taxes. And Blauvelt says that might leave homeowners thinking schools are flush with cash.

"But what we actually found was the increased property taxes didn't plug the budget hole that the drop in state dollars left," she said.

The report also analyzes data on college tuition increases over the past decade.

Another report, from the Bush Foundation, found unprepared kindergartners are more likely to drop out of high school, which costs Minnesota schools $42 million a year in lost state aid.

In all, unprepared kindergartners cost schools $113 a year for a variety of reasons, including special education and grade repetition costs for unprepared students; costs for English language learners with no early education; and school safety costs for delinquent students who weren't adequately prepared.

A $4.8 billion state deficit, though, is souring any chance for funding increases over the next two years.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said his budget proposal will prioritize education, but he's never promised schools that they'll be completely safe from cuts, either.

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