Governor Mark Dayton and Speaker Kurt Daudt will meet Tuesday to discuss next steps given a vetoed education bill. On behalf of all Greater Minnesota students, MREA wishes them well in their conversation and respectfully makes three suggestions:

  1. Start with HF 844 and add to it the provisions needed for a signature. HF 844 closes the biggest current rural-metro funding inequity with its long-term deferred maintenance equalized levy phased in over three years. For more on HF844, view bill snapshot.
  2. Focus on the details of Pre-K, not the rhetoric. The best Minnesota rural early childhood education is in communities that have been able to build coordinated systems with community partners. They focused on the details and leveraged additional funding. Learn more on what’s working. A similar approach needs to be taken at the state level to focus on the details as additional dollars are dedicated to Pre-K. View a short list of policy details to consider. Read Art Rolnick’s take on the governor’s plan.
  3. Outline the plan quickly and wrap up a K-12 bill in early June. Students, families, teachers, school districts need to know what to expect for September. Every day there is not a final answer from St. Paul is a day more of anxiety, uncertainty and one less day to get ready for the opening of school. This means that not every detail can get worked out about Pre-K and that should be referred to a broad-based working group to have the details ready for when the legislature reconvenes March 8. Taking time to do this work is a good thing. 

Even Governor Dayton appears to understand this last point about early learning. On Almanac Friday night, he commented, “This will take a few years to knit together.” He went on to say that he wanted an all of the above approach and choices for parents.

Complicating the situation on Saturday, Governor Dayton vetoed both the Ag/environment and jobs/economic development bills. In addition, he proposed adding $250 million to the education bill raising the total over the biennium to $650 million from the $400 million in the bill he vetoed. His proposal included 2&2 for K-12, and $100 million for Pre-K but without the requirement that it be his previously proposed universal Pre-K model. Stay tuned, this is only the beginning.