Nelson amendment would restore funding and continued eligibility for Rochester P-TECH

Senator Carla Nelson
2 min readMay 8, 2024

Minnesota State Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) on Monday offered an amendment to the Senate’s supplemental education finance bill that would restore funding and continued eligibility for Rochester’s groundbreaking P-TECH program, after legislative Democrats and Gov. Walz’s administration put forward a bill that slashed funding for Rochester P-TECH by 90% and then eliminated it totally.

When I spearheaded the creation of P-TECH as Education Committee chair, the intention was always that no matter how widespread the program became, Rochester’s share of funding would continue,” Senator Nelson said. “It is wonderful that Rochester’s incredible success has put Minnesota in a position to expand this program to new communities, but that absolutely should not jeopardize Rochester’s funding. I applaud Rochester officials for their commitment to raising more money locally, but the state of Minnesota should maintain its historic support for Rochester P-TECH and continue to provide funding increases each year as needed. We should not be undercutting a program doing a phenomenal job before the first class of students even graduates.

When Senator Nelson originally championed the creation of the P-TECH program, funds were for both ongoing and startup costs. Under the Democrat legislation, any program that has been in effect for two years or more will no longer qualify for state support aid, which is a complete departure from the program as originally created.

Senator Nelson originally signed on to this year’s P-TECH bill in hopes of showing bipartisan support for the program. However, when Senator Boldon proceeded with provisions to eliminate Rochester’s P-TECH funding over the next several years, Senator Nelson removed her name from the bill. The Democrat proposal phases Rochester’s P-TECH funding out over several years: the appropriation starts at $500,000 in 2025, drops to $250,000 in 2026, and then $50,000 in 2027.

The Nelson motion to restore Rochester’s P-TECH funding was rejected, with nearly all Democrat senators and the chair of the education committee voting no, following Chair Kunesh’s request for a “no” vote.

Senator Boldon did originally cast a “no” vote, as requested by Chair Kunesh. However, she changed to a yes at the last moment before the Senate President closed the vote board:

https://youtu.be/caRAepHoNog?t=34809
** The relevant portion begins at 9:40:10

The P-TECH model is a public-private partnership that prepares students for high-skill jobs in identified growth industries. It provides a rigorous, relevant, and cost-free education in grades 9 to 14, inclusive, with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers. Students also benefit from workplace learning opportunities, such as mentoring by industry professionals, worksite visits, speakers, and internships, as well as intensive, individualized academic support from secondary and postsecondary faculty.

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