An agreement on the outstanding education issues is elusive after Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt met four days in a row last week. One thing Gov. Dayton and Speaker Daudt agreed to quickly is that the Special Session would be held in the State Office Building. Several hearing rooms are large enough to hold each body, it is wired for TV and Sound so the sessions can be televised, web casted, and saved.

Late Friday afternoon they made separate comments to the media. In his remarks, the Governor said he dropped his demand for universal Pre-K, is holding out for at least $150 million in education funding, and stated that the talks went backwards on Friday. On Friday afternoon, the GOP offered an additional $125 million. Both sides agree on $63 million for 2&2 on the formula.

GOP Offer

The GOP wants to add $21.5 million each to scholarships and School Readiness, and repeal Pathway II scholarships, which went directly to schools and providers. They also want to bring back a policy provisions of their bill: LIFO. Both of these positions are troubling for school organizations because they reopen issues within the Conference Report and tilt the early learning dollars to scholarships.

Governor’s Priorities

When Gov. Dayton vetoed the Education Conference Report (HF 844), he distributed a list of $250 million in additional spending he wanted in the final education package. A total of $100 million for Pre-K and $63 million for 2 percent and 2 percent on the formula for each of the next two years were the two largest items. Those two and 10 other items, including $17 million for AMI education totaled $250 million. View the Governor’s Priorities.

Meeting of Education Organizations

MREA and five other education organizations met last week and agreed to four talking points to guide the negotiators. Learn more.

  • Start with the Conference Report HF 844 and add to it to HF 844
  • Increase the formula to at least 2% and 2%
  • For early learning, start with School Readiness and phase in additional PreK
  • Resolve your differences quickly so families, teachers and districts can get ready for the 15/16 school year

All six organizations are asking their members to use these talking points when discussing the special session with your media, school community, local legislators and Dayton, Daudt, and Bakk. Contact state leaders.

The negotiators are under increasing time pressures. On Monday, June 1, layoff notices will be sent to nearly 9,500 state workers who will be sidelined if a budget is not adopted by July 1.

What’s Next?

But the complications of a budget deal extend beyond education. Gov. Dayton vetoed both the jobs/economic bill and the environmental/Ag bill. The legislature did not pass the Legacy Funding Bill, nor a transportation nor tax bill. The first two must pass and signed into law by July 1, the others have advocacy groups pushing for passage.

As long as discussions stay quiet, that means progress is being made and a special session announcement could happen at any time. If one side or the other starts doing press conferences blasting the other side, that’s not a good sign. That is why Friday’s separate comments were disquieting to the school community who want this resolved quickly.

Stay Informed

The best way to stay informed is to follow the news on Twitter. MREA will post developments @mreavoice. To follow all the developments on all the bills, search the hashtag: #mnleg