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Walz urges lawmakers to pass summer education package

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday urged Minnesota lawmakers to immediately pass legislation to fund a $150 million summer education package in the Democratic governor’s budget proposal that would attempt to remedy disruptions to students’ learning during the pandemic.

The proposed summer learning plan would feature funding for summer learning programs and field trips, as well as mental health support programs, summer preschool and college courses for graduating seniors. Walz asked state lawmakers to fund the program by April 15 to allow schools time to plan ahead and determine budgets for programs, staffing, and health and safety measures amid the pandemic.

“There’s absolutely no excuse right now not to be working on this plan,” Walz said during a news conference on Thursday. “It’s too late at the end of May to pass something for summer — the planning needs to happen right now.”

“We started this session committed to balancing the budget without raising taxes. With every week that passes, it’s easier to stick to that commitment,” Gazelka said in a statement Wednesday. “There is absolutely no reason to raise taxes on Minnesotans and the Governor should drop all his proposed increases.”

The Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would provide tax relief to individuals who received unemployment insurance and to struggling businesses that received emergency loans via the federal Paycheck Protection Program last year to keep employees on their payroll. The bill passed on a 55-12 vote, though its future is unclear in the Democratic House.

Walz said Thursday he wants lawmakers to include the summer learning funding in the tax relief legislation before it makes it to his desk to sign. Several House Democrats, including Speaker Melissa Hortman of Brooklyn Park and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, released a statement Thursday in support of the governor’s summer education package.

“If you’re going to move a tax cut bill before talking about our children, you’ve got a lot of folks in this room listening to that,” told reporters during the news conference at Armstrong High School in Plymouth. “Why don’t you put these things into a package, why don’t we move them together and why don’t we try to get them there because that gets the buy-in from everybody and it seems to makes more sense.”

This content was originally published here.

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