Walz signs education budget bill with others to follow

With House Speaker Melissa Hortman, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and several pre-school students standing by, Gov. Tim Walz signs the E-12 education bill. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

DFL Gov. Tim Walz has signed the first in a series of budget bills that lawmakers passed last week in a special session.

In total, the finance bills make up a new $48 billion, two-year state budget.

Walz went to Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul Thursday to sign the E-12 education bill.  The measure provides a $543 million increase in funding to public schools, including a 2 percent bump in the per pupil formula each of the next two years.

Last year, then-Gov. Mark Dayton used the same backdrop to veto a tax bill. Following a short signing ceremony, Walz said he is proud that he has so far not vetoed any bills that were passed this year.

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“That is certainly a prerogative and something that the executive office has and uses as a tool when necessary,” Walz said. “But I certainly think that this is the way Minnesotans would like us to get things done, and this E-12 bill does that.”

Walz wanted more money for schools, but he said the education bill was a good compromise with Senate Republicans. The governor is expected to sign the rest of the budget bills by the end of the day Friday.

Despite making sizable compromises to get all of the budget bills passed, Walz stressed that he is proud of the final product. He said he is not worried about who won and who lost on various items.

“The only thing I care about is if Minnesotans win, if we move them forward,” he said. “I don’t care about the political tally that goes into that.”