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Letter: Clarifications on school story

First and foremost, I care deeply about education and am incredibly frustrated with what is happening to our public education system. Rep. Slawik and I held the listening session to hear firsthand how the budget, passed by the Republican majorities, impacts our children and schools. It should have been reported that Republicans Rep. Sondra Erickson (chair of the House Education Reform committee) and Rep. Bruce Vogel were in attendance.

I want to make it absolutely clear that neither I, nor any DFL legislators, voted for or supported the education budget that was enacted by the Republican majority. When the frustration was expressed in the room, the implied "you" was not directed at Rep. Slawik or me; it was directed at the Republicans who voted for their budget.

As DFLers, we offered a different plan. We know that a quality education requires resources and if the borrowing from our schools is ever to be repaid, that requires money. We believe it should be raised in the fairest manner possible. We wanted to ask the top 2 percent, but were willing to compromise by asking only the top 0.3 percent (individuals earning more than $1,000,000 annually) to pay an additional 3.1 percent on income above $1,000,000.

Instead, our schools are borrowing to keep the doors open while property taxes and the cost of services continue to increase. Programs like the Market Value Homestead Credit, which provides property tax relief to 95 percent of Minnesotans, have been eliminated. The Republicans protected the millionaires and billionaires from having to pay a penny more in income taxes at the expense of the remaining 99.7 percent of Minnesotans.

I believe in the value of education and frankly, schools are at the breaking point. The only tools left in the toolbox are raising fees and asking property tax payers to foot the bill.

If your school district has a levy up for a vote, Please support it! I know it's asking a lot and property taxes have gone up far too much already, but our kids deserve a quality education.

Voting and elections matter.

Andrew Falk

State Representative