Dayton wants to spend $20 billion on education in the state


Gov. Mark Dayton hopes to invest much of the state's estimated $1 billion budget surplus in education and families, as well as fixing the state's roads and bridges, according to the budget proposal he unveiled Tuesday.

"Minnesota's future success – the health of our families, the vitality of our communities, and the prosperity of our state – will depend upon our making excellent educations available to all Minnesotans," Gov. Dayton said in a news release.

Dayton's general fund budget totals more than $42 billion over two years, but doesn't include a general tax increase, WDAY reports.

Dayton's proposal is the basis for the state Legislature when it decides how to spend the state's money.

The state operates on a two-year budget cycle.

Dayton's 2013 budget proposal called for about $38 billion in spending, MPR reported. That was also at a time when the state was facing a $1.1 billion deficit.

Breaking it down

The majority of Dayton's budget proposal would benefit education and health and human services programs.

Dayton would invest $109 million to create a free, voluntary pre-kindergarten learning program for all 4-year-olds in Minnesota, which supporters believe will help address the state's achievement gap and prepare kids to be successful students.

His budget would also invest $373 million to increase funding for every K-12 school in the state; improve school nutrition and behavioral health in schools; invest $93 million to help make higher education more affordable; and deliver roughly $100 million in child care tax credits for working families, as well as provide additional resources for low-income families.

Republican leaders in the Legislature were critical of Dayton's budget plan, saying it's too high and focuses on the wrong priorities, according to the Star Tribune.

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, says the governor is directing too much money to education programs that are not working.

"It spends more money doing the same things we've done the last 15 to 20 years, and we have not seen any results so far," Hann said.

Other Republicans say they're disappointed that Dayton didn't include any more money for nursing homes in the state, which is a top priority for them.

Dayton's plan also contains $30 million to expand broadband Internet availability, $70 million to make railroads safer, and $45 million for local programs, aimed to ease property taxes among other things.

However, Dayton's plan eliminates funding to the the Minneapolis Parks Board because of its efforts to obstruct the Southwest Light Rail project, MPR News reports.

Read all the budget details here.

The Republican leaders say they won't release their budget proposal until after the state's next economic forecast is released in late February, according to the Star Tribune.

Dayton began his budget proposal news conference by decrying the shooting at New Hope City Hall Monday night, which injured two police officers.

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