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January, 2003

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Senator Dayton

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Press Releases

Senator Dayton

For Immediate Release

Dayton Introduces Legislation Requiring Federal Funding for 40 Percent of Special Education Costs
Bill Would Mean Over $250 Million Annually for Minnesota Schools

WASHINGTON, DC - Senator Mark Dayton today introduced legislation to require the federal government to fully fund its long-promised 40 percent share of special education costs. The measure would provide over $250 million in additional funds for Minnesota schools this year to educate special needs students.

Dayton, who has made full funding of the federal 40 percent share a top priority, introduced his plan Thursday to raise the federal contribution to schools in Minnesota and across the country from the current 16 percent of program costs to 40 percent beginning in fiscal year 2004. Currently, schools must absorb the shortfalls with other school funds.

"A quarter century ago, Congress promised that it would pay for 40 percent of the costs to educate each child with a disability," Dayton said. "That promise has never been kept. Today, the federal share of special education is only 16 percent nationally, less than half the promised amount. In Minnesota, it is 15 percent. That is shameful. It hurts all schoolchildren, because it forces school districts to make up the difference with funding for other school services. Now, with state budgets in crisis, it is essential the federal government pay its full share.

"Recently, members of my staff and I have met throughout Minnesota with special education teachers, school superintendents, and parents of children with special needs. Our schools need more resources to deliver the quality education our children deserve. The federal government's failure to keep its promise has prevented schools from meeting many other urgent educational needs. The federal government must live up to its obligation so that Minnesota schools can provide the best possible education to all their students."


Rep. Matt Entenza, House DFL Leader
267 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155 651/296-8799
1647 Portland Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104 651/647-1425

For Immediate Release January 7, 2003


Eighteen months after the events of September 11, the Pawlenty Administration is proposing to pull cops, firefighters and other first responders off the street because of cuts to local aid, a move House DFL Leader Matt Entenza said will threaten the security of Minnesota communities.

"We need to make sure that our communities aren't forced to pull cops off the street or firemen and EMTs out of the local firehouse," Entenza said. "In many communities, particularly in Greater Minnesota, state aid is anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of city budgets. Common sense tells that if we cut that aid too drastically, we're going to force communities to reduce police and fire services at the very time we need them the most."

Entenza made his comments at a news conference outlining House DFL priorities for the upcoming session. In addition to protecting local police and fire departments from funding cuts, Entenza said the state needs to eliminate the bureaucratic hoops local departments are forced to jump through to qualify for terrorism training and equipment funds made available by the 2002 Terrorism Act.

Before they can qualify for funding, cities, counties and medical responders are being asked to fill out a seven-page report that lists the names of all the groups in their area that pose a potential terrorist threat, assesses whether those groups are planning to use weapons of mass destruction-including nuclear devices-and then calculates the number of casualties that such an attack could produce. The reporting requirement was created while new Pawlenty Administration Chief-of-Staff Charlie Weaver was in charge of the Department of Public Safety.

"Charlie Weaver is the architect of this parody, so we know where the administration's priorities lie in this regard," Entenza said. "Instead of creating more bureaucracy, the Pawlenty administration should be focusing on ways to balance the budget and keep cops on the street. This is simple common sense."

"During the campaign, Governor Pawlenty talked a lot about accountability. Well, that goes both ways. His administration needs to be accountable to the local police, firefighters and EMTs that keep our communities safe." In addition to the risk to security, Entenza said that the drastic cuts to Local Government Aid (LGA) floated by the administration as one way to balance the budget would also lead to higher property taxes.

"We understand that our new Governor has promised not to raise taxes and we pledge to do everything we can to help him keep that promise," Entenza said. "However, we also want to make sure that property taxes are also included. The real challenge this session will be fixing the budget problem while safeguarding the things that have sustained Minnesota's high quality of life and strong economy-quality schools, good jobs, affordable health care, clean air and water and good roads and transit. Simply shifting the hard choices onto local communities isn't going to cut it."


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