With the 2017 session of the Minnesota Legislature winding to a close – and little visible progress toward a budget deal between Republican lawmakers and DFL Governor Mark Dayton – hundreds rallied to make sure education is not forgotten.
A crowd of more than 500 teachers, support staff, students, parents and other community members rallied in the state Capitol rotunda Saturday to support public education.
“Invest, invest, invest!” the crowd chanted. Several speakers called on legislators to provide adequate funding for public schools, to approve money for more teachers, counselors and other support staff and to maintain funding for quality pre-kindergarten programs.
They said legislation approved by GOP lawmakers would lead to cuts at schools around the state. Lawmakers want to shift money from a projected $1.65 billion budget surplus to tax breaks.
“How do I explain to my children that teachers or programs are being cut at their schools when when they know there is money,” asked Amanda Reineck, a school employee and member of SEIU Local 284.
Participants in the rally included members of Education Minnesota, SEIU, AFSCME, the Teamsters and other unions and community groups such as ISAIAH.
The rally concluded with the delivery to the governor’s office of about 1,000 handwritten notes from educators and other supporters of public education.
By law, the legislative session must adjourn at midnight Monday. The failure of lawmakers and the governor to agree on appropriations for education, health, transportation and other services could lead to a state shutdown.
The Minnesota Legislature convened Jan. 3 with an agenda including the state budget and longstanding issues such as transportation and health care.