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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sondra Erickson (R)

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Legislative Update (2-13-15)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Dear Neighbors,

Thanks to those of you who visited my office at the Capitol this past week. There were numerous district residents who came to discuss economic development, roads and bridges, pre-kindergarten programs and college education.  I always welcome the opportunity to speak with constituents and strongly encourage those of you who have not had the chance to visit the Capitol, to please do so.

Committee Hearing

House File 382, a bill that I authored, will be heard by the House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Committee this coming Tuesday.  HF 382 brings transparency and accountability to the DNR in regard to the work being done to preserve the Lake Mille Lacs fish population.  Millions of dollars of taxpayer money has been spent on Lake Mille Lacs without our knowing specifically how the money is being spent.  My bill will require the DNR to issue a yearly report detailing the management cost of the program and the progress being made.

Upcoming Town Hall Schedule

Senator Dave Brown and I will hold town hall meetings on March 14.  It is always rewarding to meet with constituents as they share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas on how we can make our state better. I especially encourage you to attend if you are concerned about rising property taxes.

Please note that there have been changes to the March 14th schedule:

  • 7:30 am in Princeton at K-Bob Café
  • 9:00 am in Milaca at Hi-Way Café
  • 11:30 am in Wahkon at Mugg’s
  • 1:30 pm Onamia at the Vet’s Club


Among the Governor Mark Dayton's $42 billion budget proposal is more than $100 million in funding for pre-kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds in our public schools.

I agree that it may be important to improve access to quality pre-kindergarten to close our state’s achievement gap.  However, the Governor’s proposal ends up being a costly approach that does not specifically target students who are in the most need and takes choice away from parents. Moreover, it will definitely cause the closure of many of our in- home or private centers for childcare.

Those who spend precious hours caring for our little ones, including four-year-olds, provide families with the early learning experiences our children need. 

Furthermore, if we are going to use state resources to fund pre-kindergarten programs, I want to make sure that we spend in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible. 

Data shows that school-based approaches to pre-k cost almost twice as much per hour to operate as non-profit centers and nearly four times as much as for-profit centers.  This 2011 study, completed by the Rand Corporation, revealed that school-based pre-kindergarten programs cost on average $19.06 per hour to operate. 

When compared to non-profit centers ($9.21-$11.94 per hour) and for-profit centers ($3.74-$5.77 per hour). 

Additionally, the Governor’s proposal would require our public schools to invest dollars in new facilities, playgrounds and other safety measures to care for four-year- olds because many schools were not designed to serve this age.

With state resources so scare, it is not wise to spend more than $100 million on entitlement programs that are so broad in their scope that they will serve more than is necessary.

Unlike current early learning scholarships that specifically target low-income families, the Governor’s proposal would extend to wealthy, middle class, and low-income families alike. 

Research shows that such a universal approach to early learning is inefficient and costly.  We need to continue to focus our efforts on low-income families that need the most help. 

Extending pre-kindergarten funding to Minnesota’s wealthiest families does not have the same return on investment as specifically targeting low-income families.

Moreover, if we were to adopt the Governor’s schools-only approach, we will take the power of choice away from parents.  We will allow school districts and the State Department of Education to decide on the location, hours, and educational programs that will be offered and made available for pre-kindergarten students. 

Parental choice is of paramount importance in any education discussion.  It serves students and families best when parents are given the opportunity to determine the hours, locations, and programs that are best for their children and families. 

Together, parents, teachers, and community members share the same goal of ensuring that our students are equipped with the necessary tools for a successful and enriching educational experience.  Parental involvement, quality teachers, and school choice are key components towards achieving this goal. 

As chair of the Education Innovation Policy Committee, I am committed to find practical ways in which we can improve the educational experience for Minnesota students of all ages.

Staying Connected

Please visit and “like” my Facebook page for updates on all the important legislation and events that are taking place at the Capitol.

As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments about issues that are important to you. My door is always open. If you would like to schedule a time to meet, please contact my office at or 651-296-6746.



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