Dayton will veto education funding bill

As he promised, Gov. Mark Dayton will veto the $400 million education funding bill passed by the Legislature at the close of the 2015 session. He said Tuesday afternoon he hasn’t actually received the bill yet and will officially veto it as soon as he does.

Nonetheless, the bill will not become law.

“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,” Dayton wrote in a letter to House Republican Speaker Kurt Daudt.

“It is incomprehensible that estate tax cuts for millionaires and property tax relief for large corporations are higher priorities for your House Republican Caucus than investing adequately in our students and young children,” Dayton wrote.

Dayton vetoed the bill because it targets most of its funding to increase per pupil funding. Dayton wanted $150 million more for education, with the money going to fund half day pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds in public schools.

Dayton’s letter includes a number of other provisions he would like to see in the education bill, including funding for English as a second language programs, free breakfasts for pre-kindergarteners and first graders, and funding for the Northside Achievement Zone and St. Paul Promise Neighborhood.

This means the Legislature will have to meet in a special session.

Dayton said he repeatedly offered to drop his pre-kindergarten proposal until the final moments of the 2015 legislative session if Republicans would agree to more funding for education overall. Dayton said Republicans repeatedly disagreed.

“We were trying to spare the taxpayers a special session,” Dayton said of his last ditch attempt to wrap-up the regular session.

Now that the Legislature is on track for a special session, Dayton said he’s not sure if he will continue his push for pre-kindergarten after dropping what he said was “his number one priority.”

Dayton said he hasn’t had a chance to review any other bills passed by the Legislature, and isn’t sure if he will veto anything else.

But he did mention that he’s concerned the legacy and bonding bills were not passed this session. Dayton said he considers both “essential.”

Because the Capitol is under construction, it’s unclear where a special session would be held. Dayton said he was serious about a proposal he made over the weekend to hold the session in a tent on the Capitol lawn, but he said he would be willing to consider any option that is affordable for taxpayers.

Daudt has said that Dayton needs to build support for his plan, and that it’s his fault the pre-K funding proposal couldn’t get the necessary support to pass.

You can read the letter here.