Governor Mark Dayton says House Republicans are using four-year-olds as “bargaining chips” in negotiations, by zeroing out funding for pre-kindergarten programs in their education budget bill. Dayton brought educators to the State Capitol today (Tues) to state their case. Spokeswoman Cindy Stolp says the Pine City School District current serves 80 students with pre-kindergarten programs but has 20 children on a waiting list. “It breaks my heart when a four-year-old arrives at our school with their backpack loaded, ready to learn, and we have to turn them away,” Stolp says. House Republicans have offered funding for school readiness programs but the governor indicates it doesn’t go far enough.