Dayton signs education funding bill

Gov. Mark Dayton says the education funding bill he signed into law today is one of the primary reasons for raising taxes this session.

The bill provides $485 million in new spending for public schools, including early childhood education scholarships, all-day kindergarten and a bump in the basic per-pupil formula. Dayton said while more money for education doesn’t guarantee success, less money would guarantee failure.

“This is why we raised taxes progressively,” Dayton said. “So that we could deal with the deficit, pay that off without having to make more draconian cuts, such as these programs here that would have been inevitably affected by that, and have the resources to make these new investments that are going to pay off for Minnesotans, for middle income families and for people throughout the state.”

Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, said the bill he worked on as chair of the Senate Education Committee helps to turn the financing tide of the past decade by making needed investments in schools.

“This is the best education bill to be signed in Minnesota history,” Wiger said.

Many Republican lawmakers opposed the E-12 bill.

Rep. Kelby Woodard, R-Belle Plaine, described the bill as empty slogans and promises. He said Democrats are increasing funding, but doing little to improve the current education system.

“We’re just taking more money and putting it into the programs that have given us the same results over the last decade,” Woodard said.

Woodard and other Republicans are also critical of the bill’s repeal of the current tests required for high school graduation. Gov. Dayton said those tests are “onerous” and “absurd,” and will be replaced with a better system for measuring student performance.