In just over 30 minutes on Thursday, Governor Mark Dayton outlined some of the facts and public kudos that point to Minnesota’s economic success among other states. He called upon the legislature to act boldly on education, water quality and transportation. His education comments focused on increased early learning programming and investments.
Dayton challenged those who continue to argue taxes are too high in Minnesota. He admitted that Minnesota is a high tax state, but because of how we invest our tax dollars we have produced an effective state. He said the surplus is due to the hard work on Minnesotans and businesses.
Focus on Early Education
On education, he spoke about the success of all day kindergarten. He thanked school board members, administrators, parents and teacher for the successful implementation of this program.He made a case for his $695 million proposed new funding for E-12 programs over the next two years.
The Governor noted that some people are saying we’ve done enough in education since he took office. However, he noted that national data ranks Minnesota 24th among the states in K-12 spending per student and argued that being average isn’t good enough. Especially given the fact that Minnesota has the 11th highest per-capita income among the states.
Dayton argued we still have a long way to go to make up for the lack of funding in the previous decade and that it’s not a reason to stand still.
He spent time making the case for funding four year old preschool, arguing that it could transform the lives of tens of thousands of young people. He talked about expanding scholarships, child care assistance and home visiting programs for 0-3 year olds.
Dayton urged the groups that are fighting over how additional funding for early learners should be spent to work with the legislature to find the best solution. In the Governor’s view, it shouldn’t be a competition between 0-3 year olds and four year olds, but support for both. This is easier said than done and the battle over how to invest in early learning will dominate the E-12 debate for the remainder of session.
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