Frustrated officials at ISD 166 express concerns to lawmakers in St. Paul over 2022 session
WTIP file photo

Frustrated officials at ISD 166 express concerns to lawmakers in St. Paul over 2022 session

Disagreements between Democrats and Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature specific to funding for student mental health, special education and reading programs prevented them from reaching a deal that would have sent more than $1 billion to schools across the state over the next three years.

The news of the failure to pass such a bill did not sit well with educators and administrators across the state, including in Cook County.

Based on documents shared with WTIP, ISD 166 Superintendent Chris Lindholm from the Cook County School District expressed disappointment with state lawmakers regarding their failure to use a massive budget surplus to support the state’s schools.

“That simple vote would result in at least $1.2 million a year for Cook County schools, saving teaching jobs over the next five years and enable us to serve students as expected by you and the public,” Lindholm wrote in a May 24 missive.

There were a few hits but lots of misses as the divided Minnesota Legislature missed a May 23 deadline for passing a package of tax cuts and new spending using the state’s massive budget surplus.

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz met last week with Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller and Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman. The governor acknowledged afterward that they’re still searching for enough common ground to justify a special session to finish at least some of the work, so he has no immediate plans to call one.

“They indicated that they think their members need a little bit of time to decompress,” Walz told reporters last week, adding that he thought it might do lawmakers good to go home and hear from their constituents. “I think they’re going to hear it’s not acceptable to just go home and not do it.”

Miller and Hortman left without commenting to reporters, the Associated Press reports.

State government will continue functioning through June 2023 even without a special session. The Legislature passed a two-year budget last year — after a special session — so the lights will stay on.

But absent agreement on terms for reconvening, Minnesota residents won’t get tax cuts this year. No major steps will be taken to fight crime. No extra money will be available for schools and social programs such as child care and nursing homes. There will be no public works package known as a bonding bill. And Minnesota will walk away from millions of federal transportation dollars that require state matching funds.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with District 3A Rep. Rob Ecklund about the 2022 legislative session and how it will impact Cook County and the surrounding region. Audio below.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.