House DFL leaders speak out against GOP budget

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, April 1, 2015

By Albert Lea Tribune


Local leaders called for Minnesota’s next budget to do more for Greater Minnesota, especially when it comes to education.

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As part of their statewide tour over the legislative break, Rep. Jeanne Poppe, House DFL Leader Paul Thissen and Deputy Leader Melissa Hortman visited Riverland College in Albert Lea on Monday. The legislators discussed the budget plan from the Republican-controlled House, and they argued the Republican’s proposal needs to do better for Greater Minnesota — in particular in education.

“Greater Minnesota and rural Minnesota, we were the lifeline for many of those schools and now I am just concerned that the lifeline is fraying and we’re going to have some difficulty,” Poppe said in a press release. “We should be continuing the progress we made over the past two years in education, not putting on the breaks.”

“We are concerned that the Republican budget proposal is leaving a lot of Minnesotans behind, especially our kids and students,” Thissen added in the release. “With a $2 billion budget surplus, we should be able to freeze tuition and reduce student debt. We should be able to invest in education from our youngest learners to our college students.”

The legislators pointed out that the Republican budget would direct $15 in tax breaks for every $1 that goes to education. The plan would provide less than a 1 percent increase in funding for E-12 education and it wouldn’t allow for a tuition freeze or student debt relief.

“Now that our economy is back on its feet, we really have an opportunity to build an economy in which all hardworking Minnesotans can enjoy opportunity and security,” Hortman said in the release. “Shortchanging education will likely mean education cuts at our schools and higher tuition and debt at our colleges and universities. We should be building a strong economy by investing in our youngest learners up on through to our college students.”

The legislators argued that Greater Minnesota does not do well in the Republican budget plan:  Along with underfunding education, the Republican plan would cut funding to the jobs and economic development budget, which greatly benefits Greater Minnesota jobs initiatives.

“House Republicans campaigned on bringing a focus to Greater Minnesota, but it seems like they’re focusing their cuts in Greater Minnesota,” Thissen said in the release. “Our public colleges provide Minnesotans opportunity across the state — they want to raise tuition. The budget that goes to rural broadband and job development — they want to cut it. We shouldn’t leave Greater Minnesota behind, but that’s what this budget plan would do.”

Legislators return from the legislative break on April 7.