Governor Tim Walz proposes $5 billion increase for child care centers, schools and paid family leave programs – InForum

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ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan on Tuesday, Jan. 25, outlined a $5.1 billion plan to increase funding for child care and pre-school resources. K statewide.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labour leadership pair presented their proposal at a primary and primary school. And they said the spending was critical to supporting Minnesota families, especially as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their sweeping plan would add 6,000 new state-funded pre-kindergarten slots, increase early learning scholarships, increase funding for the state’s child care assistance program and send money to help stabilize child care providers across the state as they grapple with the financial strain of the pandemic.

He would also introduce state-run programs to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave for workers who need to care for a loved one or have a baby and the accrual of up to 48 hours of sick leave. paid.

“These are two-generation proven strategies that are for the whole child, the whole family and the whole community and we know they work,” Flanagan said. “When you increase family income and opportunity, we improve child outcomes.”

Public schools would see a 2% increase in funding from current levels, along with additional support for paraprofessionals and money to offset cross-subsidies for special education and English language learners.

The plan would also provide free breakfast and lunch to all public school students, fund more mental health services and create a program to improve students’ reading skills.

Walz said last week that $4.4 billion of the state’s $7.75 billion budget surplus should be used to send checks to 2.7 million Minnesota households, provide payments for heroes to front-line workers and other economic development programs. The governor was expected to announce a final round of plans for the excess money on Wednesday, along with other unused federal dollars.

The governor’s plans could help shape an additional budget plan on Capitol Hill, but Walz likely won’t get everything he asked for. The plans must go through the divided Statehouse to become law.

Democrats who control the House of Representatives on Tuesday said they were aligned with the governor’s plans for child care, school funding and programs that help workers. And they have advanced their own plans to increase funding levels for early learning, K-12 schools and higher education.

They said they had compromised with Republicans to prevent the state government from shutting down in 2021, but hoped to increase spending in those areas in the future.

“It’s recognition of the need in this area,” said Rep. Dave Pinto, DFL-St. Paul.

Republicans pointed to historic funding levels for public schools passed in the 2021 budget and additional relief provided to the state through the federal government. And they said lawmakers should prioritize returning more of the surplus to taxpayers over increasing state spending.

“With a $7.7 billion surplus, Minnesotans deserve permanent and meaningful tax relief,” said Deputy House Minority Leader Anne Neu Brindley, R-North Branch. “Instead, Governor Walz is pushing massive new government spending and billions in tax hikes on businesses and workers who are already struggling with inflation and soaring energy costs.”

Senate Republicans are expected to outline their top priorities for the legislative session on Wednesday.

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