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Dayton officially vetoes education bill, ponders rejecting others

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He promised he would do it, and on Thursday he did it.

Gov. Mark Dayton has officially vetoed the $17.1 billion education bill lawmakers passed after frantic budget discussions, saying it does not give schools enough of the state's projected $1.9 billion surplus.

Dayton had to wait until Thursday, the Pioneer Press writes, because he can't actually use his veto power until the bill has been presented to him, which eventually happened on Wednesday night.

The newspaper notes he was unhappy that DFL and GOP Senate and House leaders had only allocated an extra $400 million from the state's surplus for education, while Dayton wanted to spend $700 million including money to pay for free pre-kindergarten for 47,000 Minnesota 4-year-olds.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt has repeatedly said that Dayton's pre-K plan had not received popular support among lawmakers, pointing out that both the GOP-led House and DFL-led Senate approved the bill Dayton was vetoing.

The Star Tribune notes Dayton also objected to the bill not providing funding to eliminate a waiting list for the Head Start program or add money to Minneapolis' Northside Achievement Zone and the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood.

KARE 11 reports that the veto has left schools across the state in limbo as they try to finalize their budgets, with no bill likely to be passed until lawmakers meet for a special session, probably in June.

Scott Croonquist, of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, said that districts by law must adopt budgets by June 30, and so many are having to make "conservative guesses" on how much they might get from the state, as well as having to put contingency plans in place.

The Associated Press reports that the governor is still weighing vetoes on other sections of the state's $41 billion budget, and has until Saturday to make up his mind.

On Thursday, a protest was held outside the Governor's mansion in St. Paul by environmental advocates calling on Dayton to veto the environment and agriculture budget bills, MPR reports.

Dayton brought them cookies and spoke with them, saying he would consider their views, but warning that a veto would not necessarily lead to a substitute bill any more in line with the groups' wishes.

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