Education is the foundation for good jobs and a strong economy--and a way to ensure that the resources are available to care for an aging population. In 1937, residents of Crosby-Ironton voted to build a junior college in their town. Today, Republicans in St. Paul tell us that we don't have the resources to commit to improving our schools, but during the Great Depression, a community of three thousand residents decided to pass a referendum to put up a junior college.
They recognized that they must invest in their future to ensure that those things would not continue to happen in their community. They recognized the power in determining his or her future that education provides a child.
Today, we are dealing with a Republican party that shut down our state to support a budget that denied over a billion dollars in education funding to our school districts, with no real plan to pay it back. Today, we are looking at disparities in the per pupil funding formula that penalize small districts in rural Minnesota for their lack of a tax base. And every few years -- through levy referendums -- residents in school districts around this area are asked to choose between their own financial limitations and the necessity for high-quality education.
Our district has cut funding for gifted and advanced programs. The district has cut art programs. It has cut music programs. Our district has cut staffing for tech education by 50 percent and there is a very real possibility that they will be cutting more. This is unacceptable and it's time for a change.
A high-quality education system will produce the well-educated workforce that we need to have economic success. Our students must be equipped to compete locally and globally. Minnesota learned long ago that talent does not depend upon family or local community economics. Students, whether they are from the Range or from the metro, deserve the same strong education. I support paying back the $2.4 billion owed to our public schools as soon as possible, with future investments in our schools to ensure a brighter future for all of our children and our communities.