Legislators spent several hours on April 20 debating and discussing House File 2497, the omnibus K-12 education finance and policy bill. 

The bill passed with 70 yeas. 

“With this proposal we make historic investments in our schools,” said District 46 B Rep. Cheryl Youakim and chair of the House Education Finance committee during the House Floor discussion and debate. “We ensure that the learning environment in all of our schools works for all of our teachers and that our teachers, principals, and administrators have the tools they need to meet students where they’re at.” 

Youakim said that the bill stabilizes school funding, centers mental health, equity and innovation, increases career pathways, and diversifies the school workforce. Youakim also urged legislators and the public to review documentation describing the impacts of funding on individual districts and schools. 

According to Youakim, there are several key investments in the bill: 

  • An automatic increase in general formula aid by the inflation rate, for 2023 and 2024
  • A 50% investment in the special education cross-subsidy
  • A 100% investment in the English Learner cross-subsidy
  • Make permanent the 4000 pre-kindergarten spots available statewide and to expand the number of voluntary pre-kindergarten spots by 5200. 
  • An increase in funding for school support staff as well as funding for a pipeline for training school support staff
  • The READ ACT and other literacy provisions
  • American Indian education for all
  • A variety of grants to schools and school-affiliated organizations. 

Several amendments were offered on the bill, including one stripping the bill of all ethnic studies requirements and language, brought forth by District 23A Rep. Peggy Bennett who argued that ethnic studies requirements were an overreach by DFL legislators. That amendment failed with 60 yeas and 70 nays. 

The overall omnibus bill did pass with 70 yeas and 60 nays. It will now be sent on to the Senate for additional votes.