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Public policy update — proposed financial literacy

Sharon Powell, Extension educator

A new bill is up for consideration in the Minnesota State Legislature and Extension employees are providing education and content into the process. The bill, SF19, involves adding a personal finance course as a high school graduation requirement. Extension specialist Joyce Serido has been part of a coalition that was instrumental in bringing the bill to the legislature for consideration. The coalition, meeting on a monthly basis for a year and a half, is composed of people representing different professional perspectives who share a common goal of improving financial literacy for young people. One member of the group, financial planner Jason Kley, met several times with his Senator, Steve Cwodzinski, about the importance of financial education. Simultaneously, Senator Cwodzinski was hearing from some of his constituents about the need for youth financial literacy, including Minnesota Jump$tart. He became convinced of the importance of having a financial literacy graduation requirement for Minnesota high school students. He authored a bill that was introduced in January and presented to the E12 Finance and Policy Committee of the Minnesota Senate.

Minnesota state capitol building.

Sally Adams, a former high school teacher and member of Minnesota Jump$tart, one of her former students and Jason Kley, financial planner, testified about the importance of financial literacy on February 4. Members of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators testified in opposition. Representatives from this group voiced concerns over the fiscal impact of this bill, citing costs involved to assist teachers in developing curriculum. Despite differing opinions and concerns, the bill advanced and is up for consideration either on its own or included in the omnibus bill. The house companion bill is HF847. The current session ends in May.

It is a common issue that educational requirements get passed in legislation without securing the money to fund the changes. I asked Joyce whether she thought this was a valuable bill, regardless of whether funding is included in its passage. “I believe that we need to strengthen the conversation about the importance of financial literacy. To my way of thinking having this (bill) on the books says this is important and gives me a little bit more of a leg to stand on. This bill says, ‘Hey, the work that I do matters and it's our responsibility to raise awareness of the importance of this issue,’” said Serido. If you want to know more about the bill or speak to your legislators about its passage, click here for more information.

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