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Guest Opinion: Lack of an education bill hurts Minnesota students

The Minnesota House DFL has locked Minnesota students, school leaders and school board members out of discussions about education policy and budget.

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On Monday, May 17, 2021, Speaker Melissa Hortman adjourned the Minnesota House of Representatives. At the time of adjournment, no education policy and budget agreement existed.

This representative democracy-killing move removed the public and legislators from any further input to Minnesota’s education budget bill — the largest budget item for the state of Minnesota. Moreover, the House majority party and speaker are “going at it alone.”

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Rep. Ron Kresha

Passing bills and budgets at the Minnesota House of Representatives is supposed to be difficult. Our founders knew governing requires transparency, compromise and a lot of time in committee debating the merits and outcomes of legislation. Yes, this is the messy side of legislating, but when legislators fully engage and debate a bill, Minnesotans get fair legislation. This is not happening in the House of Representatives under the current DFL majority party regime.

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Because we have adjourned, without an agreed education policy and budget bill on the governor’s desk, further legislating will be conducted by working groups, bureaucrats, lobbyists, and Education Minnesota — none of which have election certificates.

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Rep. Sondra Erickson

No matter how Speaker Hortman spins the conversation, this is not our constitutional process for creating and passing education bills. This is a “wake up and make it up” process that is changing daily.

To add insult to injury, Speaker Hortman proposes solving the problem with a “year-round legislature.” To the contrary, we do not reward bad behavior with more opportunity for failure. Obfuscating the failures of this last legislative session by introducing a “year-round legislature” further decimates our legislative integrity and suggests Minnesotans are oblivious to the St. Paul elite tactics.

The solution Speaker Hortman seeks exists in the current, constitutional legislative process: January-May with committee hearings, debate and conference committees. As elected officials we must not short circuit the process so that Education Minnesota and the governor and lieutenant governor’s donors get special access to the education policy bill.

Related: Guest Opinion: It's time to get kids back into schools full time
So, we have identified the winners. Who are the losers?

Minnesota students, school leaders and school board members are again locked out of discussions about education policy and budget. This is particularly hard on children who come from families suffering from socioeconomic challenges. These children, from all ethnic groups, are consistently ignored by big education, which prioritizes union-due revenue over improving education access, choice and a quality education for every student and will never solve the achievement gap and declining education outcomes.

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Following the intended legislative process and representing constituents serves Minnesota students the best. Clandestine policy making is not Minnesota nice. The House DFL and Speaker Hortman won the 2020 election, but does the consequence have to result in the death of Minnesota’s representative democracy?

Kresha, R-Little Falls, represents District 9B in the Minnesota House of Representatives
Erickson, R-Princeton, represents District 15A in the Minnesota House of Representatives

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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