The Minnesota House on Tuesday night approved a $15.7 billion K-12 education funding bill that includes money to pay for free all-day kindergarten for all schools in the state.
As it stands, about 75 percent of students have access to all-day kindergarten, but about 10,000 families must pay for it, Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, the chair of the House Education Finance Committee, said. Marquart said the bill would save those families $26 million, the Star Tribune reported.
The K-12 budget bill also makes early-childhood education programs more affordable, and puts $315 million more into basic education in K-12 classrooms, House leaders said.
House advocates of the measure said it aims at the lofty goals of eliminating minority student achievement gaps, achieving 100 percent graduation rates, and creating the "world's greatest workforce" by the time today's tots graduate in 2027, the Star Tribune reports.
On an 83-50 vote, lawmakers approved the measure, which overall increases K-12 spending by $550 million over the next two years.
The House K-12 budget is about $60 million higher than what the DFL-led Senate proposed, and nearly $200 million more than what DFL Gov. Mark Dayton proposed, the Pioneer Press notes. The Senate is expected to vote on its plan this week.
In in related development, Marquart noted that the House Tax Bill, set for a Wednesday vote, will pay back $850 million owed to schools from previous budget deals, MPR reported. That payback relies on a temporary income tax surcharge on top earners, MPR reported.