Coleman questions GOP plans to balance state's budgetby Matt Sepic, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman focused on education and youth programs during his annual State of the City address Monday.
The mayor praised the St. Paul Public Schools' overhaul plan approved last month.
He said it focuses more resources on neighborhood schools in an effort to close the racial achievement gap. He acknowledged parents' fears about the plan, but said it must move forward.
"Change is difficult, but the status quo is unacceptable," Coleman said. "We do no service to any of our children when we acknowledge the wide achievement gap, but don't undertake the dramatic system change to correct it."
But the Democrat also used the occasion to blast Republican plans in the Legislature to cut state aid to St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth.
While Gov. Mark Dayton is likely to block the deepest cuts, Coleman called the GOP plan short-sighted and a blatant political attack on cities.
"By what logic could one possibly determine that the best way to make Minnesota strong is to destroy its most vital cities?" he asked. "And what philosophy could possibly lead one to the conclusion that taking money away from the public schools of St. Paul and Minneapolis and giving that money to schools in other parts of our state is either fair or far-sighted?"
Republicans say their budget is not an attack on Democratic-leaning urban areas but a way to help close the $5 billion deficit.
GOP leaders say Minnesota's three largest cities are better able than small towns to absorb any cuts in state aid.