An irritated Gov. Mark Dayton lashed out at Republican lawmakers on Tuesday, saying he would veto a bill that funds education without providing money for his top priority of universal pre-kindergarten.
For the past week, Dayton had intensely lobbied House Republicans and Senate Democrats to add spending for his pre-K plan for four-year-olds.
In the final hours of the legislative session, Dayton said he offered to sign all of the other budget bills and even to drop the pre-K plan. In exchange, he wanted Republicans to agree to spend $125 million more on other education items. He said Republicans rejected both offers.
Dayton said he was told there is no support for universal pre-K among Republican legislators.
Senator Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) breaks it down.
91 GOP and 32 Dems voted for education bill. @GovMarkDayton vetoes. Guess it is pretty clear who caused a special session! #mnleg #stribpol— Dave Thompson (@ThompsonSenate) May 19, 2015
Yes, the message came abundantly clear from the Senate in particular. The Democrats have a 39-28 majority in that body and yet said chamber voted 52-14 to approve the education bill without Dayton's crown jewel of Universal Pre-K. Gonna be a tough sell to lay that at the feet of Senate Republicans, which is why Dayton is perpetually ripping the GOP-controlled House.
So why is Dayton so hell bent on funding for this program that has virtually no support (not even from the Early Learning Council he appointed)?
.@GovMarkDayton vetoes Education bill because he didn't get a new program that nobody wants except Ed MN. Unreal!! #mnleg #stribpol— Dave Thompson (@ThompsonSenate) May 19, 2015
Bingo! The unions. It's always about the unions with him. Remember two years ago when he and fellow Dems (who controlled all offices of state government in 2013) bent over backwards to pass legislation to unionize in-home child care workers (most whom are independent business owners)? Yep. All to pay back his supporters among the public employee unions.
Finally, Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) shared this post on his Facebook page.
So Governor Dayton just vetoed the bipartisan House/Senate K-12 omnibus bill because we didn't fund his Universal PreK plan. NEITHER the House (GOP controlled) or the Senate (DFL controlled) voted to fund Univ PreK!
Let me share with you some of the points that were shared with me by our local 110 ISD Superintendent.
"The proposed Universal Pre-K costs for Waconia Public Schools would be devastating to our school district. It is not a concept that is supported by our parents, school, or community. The data for school readiness at Waconia Schools does not support the need for a Universal program.
Here are some of the concerns/costs:
• We have no facilities available for this and would need to lease or build for an additional 10-15 classrooms……..a huge burden on our taxpayers. Newly built would be about a $17,000,000 cost or about a 5-10% tax hike.
• We would need to hire 10-15 preschool licensed teachers (due to shortage they are not available)......a yearly cost of about $350,000 - $525,000.
• Additional busing needed
• Additional supplies and equipment needed
• Additional utilities to the building needed
• Other staff beyond teachers that would be needed.
• We would need to levy to cover the additional costs or cut current programs and raise class size to accommodate this program
ALL OF THIS WOULD BE COSTS THAT OUR SCHOOL DISTRICT IS NOT READY TO ABSORB."
If many other school Superintendents echo these same concerns to Gov. Dayton himself, perhaps it would allow him to save face. He could simply turn around and say that "many educational leaders have expressed legitimate concerns over universal pre-K and therefore it would be prudent to research this issue further. "
Yeah I know that's probably a long shot given the fact I'm operating under the pretense that Dayton is capable of a rational tone.