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House approves $157 million more for education; lower than DFL wants

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After almost five hours of debate the Minnesota House passed a financing education bill on a 69-61 vote Saturday, which would put an extra $157 million toward low-income families and schools.

The increase would bring state education spending to $16.9 billion, the Star Tribune reports.

The bills passed with strong Republican support in the GOP-controlled House, but Democrats and other critics say it doesn't provide enough money to Minnesota school districts. Critics say the amount barely covers inflation, so schools will have to lay off teachers and increase class sizes, the Associated Press reports.

Minnesota has an almost $2 billion surplus, and Democrats want to see more of that money going toward education, while Republicans favor tax cuts.

Session Daily reports the bill would look to close the achievement gap with a $30 million increase in scholarships for low-income families for early learning.

Dayton wanted $343 million for all-day pre-school for 4-year-olds, but Republicans say scholarships are a more direct way of closing the achievement gap.

Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a $695 million increase in education spending, while the DFL-controlled Senate has proposed $361 million more for schools.

The Senate has not yet acted on its education bill, and whatever it passes will need to be reconciled with the House version.

Another notable provision of the bill would change policy to weigh teacher performance more heavily than seniority when school districts have to lay off teachers.

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