$400 Million Universal Free School Meals Bill Clears MN House
St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Minnesota House has approved legislation that would provide all students with free breakfast and lunch.
The push to institute universal no-cost school meals passed on a vote of 70-58 last night. The bill now goes to the State Senate for consideration.
The Minnesota House Session Daily says the main provisions of the measure state that one breakfast and one lunch would be guaranteed every school day for any student. The legislation would require qualifying Minnesota school districts to enroll in a federal program that currently provides funding to provide meals to students regardless of family income. According to the House Session update, the state would then provide school districts that do not receive full reimbursement for the meals from the federal initiative with funds to cover the remaining costs for the "no-cost" breakfast and lunches.
House Democrat leaders estimate the cost of the state program at around $400 million for the next two years. The price tag prompted protests from House Republicans. The Session Daily publication says Republican leaders argued that "it would be fiscally irresponsible to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on school meals for students who can afford them."
The minority Republicans attempted to amend the bill to make more students eligible for no-cost meals at school by raising the income threshold to qualify for the existing state program, but those proposals were rejected on party-line votes.