Education caught in the middle of Minnesota budget veto battle

Both Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt say a special session of the legislature may not happen before June 1. That's the day layoff notices get sent out to Department of Education workers, who are caught in the middle of a veto battle between the governor and House Republicans over money for preschool.

Speaker Daudt (R-Crown) on Wednesday again urged the governor to sign all of the budget bills, which he will start reviewing Thursday. But Gov. Dayton has made it clear that there's no changing his mind on vetoing the education bill that doesn't include universal pre-K.

The House and Senate passed a bill that instead adds $60 million for a state program called "school readiness." Wednesday, GOP leaders in the House said the bill will target at-risk children.

"With the new money that we put in and with the base, we are estimating that we are reaching about 45,000 low income children through scholarships," said Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie).

But the governor wants preschool for all 4-year-olds, and he wants them taught by licensed teachers. Republicans objected, which led to a bold accusation from the governor at his post-session news conference on Tuesday.

"I realize they hate public schools," Gov. Dayton said.

24 hours later, Republican demanded an apology.

"Frankly, the rhetoric of saying the Republicans don't like public schools -- my guess is if you ask the governor now, he would probably retract that statement and apologize for it," Speaker Daudt said.

We did ask, but the governor is not backing down.

"If they want to prove me wrong, they should vote for universal pre-K, then I'll apologize," Dayton said.

It would appear that they are still far apart, but the speaker insists they really are not.

"I don't think this will be difficult to finish out here and get a bill that he can sign," Daudt said.

The governor said that he and Speaker Daudt will be meeting next Tuesday to talk about the special session. The speaker says his staff is already looking at spaces to hold that special session, since they've already been kicked out of the Capitol for renovation work.

Unfinished business

Two pretty important bills that didn't get passed on Monday night are the legacy bill and the bonding bill. A small bonding bill of $100 million needs to get passed because it contains money to finish the Capitol restoration project. The legacy bill also contains the governor's buffer strip initiative that he's been wanting.

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