Reality Check: Who’s To Blame Over Education Funding?

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — It’s only the first day of school, and Minnesota classrooms are already struggling for money.

Democratic leaders in the Minnesota House are blaming last year’s Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty.

“These Republican shifts are stealing our children’s futures right out of their hands,” said DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen, at a State Capitol press conference.

DFLers say Pawlenty, who left office at the end of 2010, and current Republican leaders are responsible for at least $2.2 billion in education funding shifts to balance the budget for the 2011 school year.

“This record increase in the school shift is death by a thousand paper cuts,” said DFL Rep. Mindy Greiling, the DFL Lead on the House E-12 Education Finance Committee. “Gov. Pawlenty and Legislative Republicans’ insistence on protecting millionaires has meant that our schools have more kids, more demands and yet fewer resources.”

This is not just an exaggeration: it is highly MISLEADING.

A school funding shift may have started under GOP Gov. Pawlenty and a DFL-dominated legislature in 2010, but it continued with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and a GOP-dominated legislature (pages 111, 112) in 2011.

In fact, Dayton also proposed it in his budget, and signed a bill enacting it into law.

What’s TRUE is that Republicans and the DFL Gov. Dayton agreed to borrow $2.2 billion from Minnesota schools to help balance the budget, with no timetable on paying it back.


Not getting the aid they expected puts Minnesota schools in a cash-flow crunch, like the Montevideo school district.

Schools are forced to dip into budget reserves, or borrow money to make ends meet.

To help defray those costs, schools will get $50 more per student.

Here’s what you NEED TO KNOW:

Whoever is to blame, if that’s the right word, classrooms are struggling.

One-hundred and thirty-three of Minnesota’s 325 districts are considering tax hike referendums to help make up the difference.

That’s the largest number in a decade.

Reality Check Links:
Minnesota School Finance
Department Of Education
MonteNews Article
Education Omnibus Bill
Minnesota School Boards Association

More from Pat Kessler
  • KeepItReal

    The democrats have been the only ones in power for 10+ years in the “making legislation” category. All Tpaw could do was trim as much fat as possible, then sign bills. Then the Dems took him to court to restore funds that cost the tax payer ever more. Now the Dems hold 1 legislature and the gov-she-ship and they are still blaming republicans. How disingenuous can they be? How do the sleep at night exploiting the poor and under privileged (just like Wellstone did) to get into power and then just point the finger versus doing anything about it? The Dems and Reps deserve each other and are both parties full of losers. But the lack of $$$ is from too many years spending too much by the dems.

    • Come on now!

      STOP BLAMING! I am so sick and tired of this blame game. I don’t care if you are republican or democrat. Just fix this mess we are in. GROW UP and stop blaming. Just work together like all your mothers, fathers, teachers, employees taught you!

      • Really?

        Obama won his job by blaming Bush and I pity those weak minded fools who bought into that. There’s a lot more to governing than just blaming. After the dust settles, you better have a plan?
        Obama has NEVER had one.
        Complete failure!

        • Dave's Not Here

          Obama is not in Minnesota politics you idiot.

    • usuk


  • Murph

    The FIRST democratic governor in HOW LONG ? inherits the Pawlenty of stupidity stuff and you blame him! Go back to the television and get brainwashed by FAUX news some more! Enjoy the slavery you are buying into with your GOP vote,it will haunt your dreams and destroy them for years to come!

    • fred

      you are an idiot. keep voting for the liberals and the promises they cant keep. or move to greece. or italy. they kept voting for the promises. and now their respective goverments can’t keep them and the people are crying in the streets wondering how they could possibly be expected to work until 62 instead of 60. we’ll be right where they are soon thanks to people like you.

  • Dave

    GOP bully’s to blame for kicking the can down the road…

    This shutdown was also caused by the GOP for not willing to negotiate….

    • Xy

      Wrong, what an idiot.

  • Rico Suave

    Funding? Who in their right mind thinks we’re spending too little? Gimme a break. We’ve been throwing more and more down the sucking maw of education and getting poorer and poorer results for decades. What are you smoking Pat??? Gimme a hit off that thing before you put it out. I need a break from reality too.

    • 3rd party

      yeah, the other story is about all the kids getting lap tops. Dang they are broke!

      • Waste

        And all the principles just got iPads. My coworker took her hubbies on a trip to play with.

        Great way to spend on principles while the students suffer! Yeah, education needs more money, yeah, right.

  • kevin

    Its really my fault! I have not given enough of my pay check to the public school system. I think the unions and teachers are doing a fine job! I just have not paid my fair share of the bill! I have no children in the public school system, but being an American means I need to pay for all the children of the world! I promise I will contact my political leaders and ask to pay till I hurt! Again, I am sorry that I have not given enough!

    • sarcasm is great

      just vote “hell yeah” for all those referendums comin’ out. Ref-er-en-DUMB. Donations accepted by all childless fools.

  • Henry


  • Jake

    Easy question to answer: The **D** **F** **L**!!!

  • tom

    I say FIRE all government congressmen and women and start over with some real people. Not those that spend1 or 2 million to fill our ears with what they think will get them our vote. The government has lost itself in itself and we the people should be getting pretty tired of the whole thing. They cannot make informed or rational decsions they just guess. I think we need to fire all of them then class action lawsuit to get our rights back and show them how to do their job. or they can all quit and we can start over. by REAL PEOPLE , i mean lets put the store clerk in there, the farmer, the construction worker, the teacher, and maybe we can get those in their that know how to work together and be not afraid of ruffling some special interest and oil companies feathers.

  • sid

    The only way to get government back in the hands of the people is to ban political contributions period. We have the ability now with the internet, cable tv, social media etc for politicians to get their message out without being beholding to special interest groups. government could easily set up a free cable channel, web site, etc providing candidates exposure to the public. Maybe then they would run for the right reasons and truely represent the people.

    • sarcasm is great

      Funny, you should look up “occupy wall street”—I guess there’s a big organized thingy across the U.S. (maybe the world for all I know) that’s gonna happen on 9/17 for just the cause you speak of. Supposed to be a big deal but no one’s talking or reporting about it. I think there thing is that people can only contribute one dollar. No SuperPac’s or lobbiests, etc. Anyway, interesting.

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  • Wheres Tom Dooher lately

    $40,000 to move Ms Silva from Woodbury to St. Paul. $80,000 for African art in N. St. Paul schools. Free taxi rides for parents to school functions.

  • Pavel

    Maybe some of these politicians should take a lesson regarding how other countries tax the wealthy. Start with France and notice they are considering raising taxes on the wealthy. UK taxes the wealthy 50%.

    The wealthy in America have no concern for public schools because they send their kids to private schools. The public schools need additional funding. Everyone seems to understand we need to compete with other nations in the future, but many fail to connect the dots that leads to jobs and a strong economic system. That connection is EDUCATION!

    The reformation of schools needs to include funding as well as lessons in parenting for parents of school age children. About half of all school age children live with a parent/parents with limited knowledge of how to deal with developing children.

  • Reasonable

    I do so love the “we spend too much on education argument” when it is followed up by complaints of high tech jobs going overseas. Keep the populace dumb, much easier to get elected that way, then placate them as your policies remove their jobs and send them to places where better educated citizens will work for less.

    Any wonder why things are going the way they are?

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