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Dayton is vetoing 'astonishing' education bill, will call special session

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Gov. Mark Dayton is vetoing an education bill featuring $400 million of extra E-12 spending that was passed Monday by Minnesota's Senate and House lawmakers.

The governor has been adamant that spending an extra $400 million out of the state's $1.9 billion budget surplus on education is not enough, and has told GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt he will veto the bill once he has it in is hands.

Dayton had initially wanted $700 million of the surplus put towards education, and had gone as low as $525 million in a bid to push the bill through ahead of Monday's deadline, but no compromise could be struck.

The veto means the Legislature will have to meet in a special session, MPR reports.

"In 2013, with a projected budget deficitof $627 million, the spending increase above the base for E-12 education was $606 million," he wrote in a letter to Daudt. "It is astonishing that with a $1.9 billion surplus, and more than $1 billion left on the bottom for future tax cuts, there would be less invested in our schools this year."

It comes after a chaotic end to the legislative session that saw lawmakers scrambling to approve the state's $41.5 billion, two-year budget in time for the midnight deadline.

Dayton: 'I offered to drop free pre-K'

Dayton said early on that his main education goal this year was funding for universal preschool for 4-year-olds, and said the $400 million agreed to by lawmakers wasn't enough to accomplish that. He reduced his demand to $550 million last week.

Dayton told reporters Tuesday that as late as Monday evening he offered to give up the pre-K plans "for the sake of compromise," and suggested to House Speaker Daudt a $525 million increase.

Daudt would not go higher than $500 million, the governor said.

Other reasons for the veto

It isn't just the disagreement over pre-K funding that is prompting Dayton's veto.

He also objects to what he says is inadequate support for other education initiatives:

  • No funding for eliminating the Head Start waiting list of 2,500 low-income children.
  • No funding for the Northside Achievement Zone or the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood.
  • No funding for Bureau of Indian Education Schools and 'meager' funding for American Indian students.
  • No funding for special education.
  • No funding for English learning programs.
  • No funding for free breakfasts for pre-K and first-graders.
  • No funding for regional centers that help "struggling schools" improve.

Some bills signed into law

The governor signed 17 bills into law Tuesday afternoon, according to his office. Most of them were not controversial.

One measure bans the use of four flame-retardant chemicals in clothing and household goods in Minnesota, because it's been linked to health problems in firefighters.

Another measure allows families to object to autopsies being conducted on their loved ones for religious reasons.

Another law requires the ride sharing services Uber and Lyft to carry liability insurance for their drivers during all phases of operation.

See the entire list here.

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