Senate Democrats want to fully fund all-day kindergarten and direct property tax relief at school districts across the state.
The Senate omnibus E-12 education budget released on Thursday calls for a total of $15.6 million in spending on education for the next two years, or a more than $400 million increase in projected spending for the 2014-2015 biennium.
That additional spending will help cover the $130 million cost to provide free all-day kindergarten. More than 60 percent of the state’s school districts currently provide all-day kindergarten, but the Senate bill would make that option available to all school districts starting in September of 2015.
The Senate bill will also provide a $100 million increase in basic education spending, $44 million in early childhood grants and an additional $9 million for special education. The bill would amount to a $52 per-pupil increase in education spending, about $150 million less than a proposal introduced by House Democrats this week.
Senate E-12 Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Wiger said their proposal would also provide property tax relief for school districts by replacing some levies with state aid. The House education budget does not include property tax relief, but instead starts paying back money borrowed from school districts to balance past budget deficits.
“Property tax reduction needs to be one of the pillars of this session,” said DFL Sen. LeRoy Stumpf. “We believe property tax reduction should occur through the school funding system.” Stumpf said that relief will cost $150 million.