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Serious Concerns From Schools About Democrat Budget Proposal

Friends and Neighbors,

Empty classroom with no students

For most of this session, I have been getting frantic calls from school officials, teachers, and superintendents in our area. They have all expressed nearly the same concern: while they are happy about proposed funding increases in the Democrat education budget, schools are actually going to lose money because Democrats are proposing so many expensive mandates.

They have told me flat out that these mandates will eat up all of the funding increases, and then some. They have shared budget breakdowns of the losses that are forthcoming. One suburban superintendent recently told his school board, “This is potentially one of the most damaging sessions I’ve seen since I’ve been a superintendent.”

Republicans unveiled a better alternative: the Students First plan. It puts more money into the classroom than the Democrat proposal, has more money for literacy, special education, and safe schools, and does so without the mandates.

Our plan focuses on the fundamentals. In August 2022, the Department of Education released assessment results that showed a steady decrease in students meeting standards in reading, math, and science. Between 2018 and 2022, Minnesota went from 60% of students being proficient in reading to only 51%. A similar trend follows for science, decreasing from 52% to 41%, and math, also decreasing from 57% to 44%. Additionally, in 19 schools across the state, not a single student was proficient in math. We have to get back on track.

Click to read more about our plan.

New Round of Democrat Elections Bills Make Minnesota Elections Riskier, Less Transparent

In last week’s newsletter, I wrote about the Senate’s elections budget bill. This week, we passed two more elections bills written by Senate Democrats, and I am afraid to say that it felt like deja vu.

Both political parties in Minnesota have agreed that election laws should not be changed unless there is bipartisan support. This tradition has been in place for a long time. However, with Democrats in control of the House, Senate, and Governor’s office, they have disregarded this tradition and passed a few extremely partisan election bills. Two of these bills were approved this week:

Elections Policy Bill:

The bill includes the National Popular Vote Compact, which would bind Minnesota’s presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote. Doing so would effectively eliminate the Electoral College, which was created in part to protect the influence of small states. Some scholars argue the National Popular Vote Compact itself is unconstitutional, as Congress must consent to interstate compacts.

  • The bill weakens residency requirements for candidates.
  • The bill allows non-campaign funds to be used for replacing lost or stolen property. The concern with this is that campaigns could claim items were lost or stolen, and without proper verification, this provision could be exploited to bypass campaign finance regulations.
  • The bill includes redundant and confusing electioneering rules, which are aimed at regulating speech that Democrats don’t support.

HF 3 – The so-called ‘Democracy for the People’ Act:

The bill allows pre-registration of 16-year-olds and authorizes permanent absentee voters.

Since data of minors will be mixed into our voter registration system, all ineligible voters will be classified as non-public data, making it difficult for the public to independently confirm that ineligible voters are not voting.

The bill includes an onerous requirement for counties to provide licensed or certified translators at all polling places. According to the American Translators Association, there are only about 10,000 of these trainers in the entire world, and counties expressed concern about being able to comply with this requirement.

It is disappointing to see Democrats so casually throw the revered custom of bipartisanship out the window in favor of a controversial, hyper-partisan agenda aimed at serving their special interest friends. These bills make our elections weaker, riskier, less transparent, and less trustworthy.

Click to read more about the bills.

More Taxes…

On May 2, Senate Democrats passed their tax bill. I hope you weren’t expecting any tax relief, because if you were, you are going to be disappointed.

Their bill failed to fully eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits, as many of them promised. While their bill has some small aids and credits, and tiny rebates, most of the “relief” is in the form of local government aid and county program aid, which leads to more government spending. Worse, even though we have a $19 billion budget surplus, their tax bill raises taxes by $1.2 billion through a new controversial mandatory worldwide reporting tax – not a single other state in the country has this mandatory tax on the books.

Bottom line: Democrats promised to give you the surplus back, but they broke that promise.

During the floor debate, we offered a number of amendments to try and fix their bill as best we could. Unfortunately, Democrats rejected most of these amendments or ruled them out of order. Among them:

  • Create a permanent and automatic refund program to ensure taxpayers are first in line when there is a government surplus
  • Require a supermajority vote to raise income taxes
  • Eliminate the expiration of the child care tax credit in 2030
  • Restrict the use of public safety aid to only licensed peace officers
  • Prohibit funds from going to cities or counties that took actions to “Defund the Police” through reduced funding for peace officers over the last four years

Republicans did successfully amend the bill to expand the list of eligible baby products for a tax exemption. It was a small victory in an otherwise disappointing bill.

Contact Me

I love hearing your feedback. It helps me serve you to the best of my ability. If you have any questions about any issues we are working on at the legislature, feel free to contact me any time at sen.mark.koran@senate.mn or 651-296-5155.

And you can always get the latest news from St. Paul on my Facebook page at /MarkKoranforSenate.

It is a privilege to serve you!