ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A top House Republican says lawmakers offered another $100 million for public schools in an effort to head off Gov. Mark Dayton’s looming veto on an education budget.
Rep. Jenifer Loon was involved in last-minute negotiations Monday with the governor’s staff as the session’s deadline approached. Dayton has promised to veto the Legislature’s education budget, teeing up a likely special session.
That budget puts another $400 million into public school funding but doesn’t include money for the governor’s prized statewide preschool program.
Loon says they offered to bump the budget up to $500 million to boost the state’s per-pupil funding formula and eliminate Head Start program wait lists.
On Monday night, Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said the governor had five months to win lawmakers over on his pre-K plan.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t pass either body,” Daudt said. “That’s not my problem.”
As a compromise, Daudt said he’ll work with the governor on a preschool bill in the 2016 legislative session.
On other fronts, lawmakers had a goal of passing a comprehensive transportation plan and failed to do it.
Daudt said Democrats demanded a gas tax, the largest of its kind in state history.
All things considered, the he gave the session a B+ or an A- at the most.
“We have a Republican house, a Democrat senate,” Daudt said. “And we worked together, and maybe it took some time for us to come together to find agreement and compromise. But you know what? We did it.”
On the other hand, Democratic Minority Leader Paul Thissen said the session was filled with failures and gave it an F.
“As you tick down all the things we could have accomplished, all the things they talked about, with the exception of nursing homes, nothing was accomplished,” he said.
Lawmakers did pass a public safety bill that included legalizing gun silencers, emergency funding to fight the bird flu outbreak, and higher education funding bills — but not enough to freeze college tuition.
Now, lawmakers are waiting to see if Dayton vetoes the education bill.
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