Capitol: Special session looms after education budget standoff

Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter to House Speaker Kurt Daudt vetoing the education finance bill the afternoon following the official end of the legislative session.

"As I have said before, the bill's total investment of $400 million is insufficient given the state's large surplus. In 2013, with a projected budget deficit of $627 million, the spending increase above the base for E-12 education was $606 million. It is astonishing that with a $1.9 billion surplus, and more than $1 billion left on the bottom for future tax cuts, there would be less invested in our schools this year," the letter reads, in part.

Full letter: [PDF]

Just before midnight, Minnesota legislators finalized a two-year $42 billion budget at the Capitol. But the meeting adjourned with a near certain special session to take place after an education budget standoff with Gov. Mark Dayton.

"I will veto," Gov. Dayton said at a Sunday press conference. "I repeat again, I will veto a $400 million bill that leaves a billion dollars on the bottom line while denying $171 million for universal pre-K for 4-year-olds."

Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt said leaders were working until 11:30 p.m. on a deal to save the education bill from getting vetoed. If Dayton vetoes the bill, and there is no time for the legislature to vote on an override, he will have to call them back for a special session sometime before July 1.

Legislators worked around the clock over the last few days to finalize the $17 billion plan for public schools, including $400 million in new spending. But the republican-controlled house wouldn't budge on additional funding for a statewide preschool program.

In the end, senators voted to keep the bill the way it is with a smaller amount of money set aside for preschool scholarships. The budget must be in place by July 1 to avoid a partial government shutdown.
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