A showdown between Governor Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled Minnesota Legislature is likely, now that Senate and House have both passed K-12 education funding bills with little or no money for expanding voluntary pre-kindergarten — one of Dayton’s top priorities. Rochester Republican Carla Nelson says the Senate’s approach is targeted funding and flexibility in scholarships. Nelson says the scholarships “can be used in Head Start,…voluntary pre-K,… at daycares, they can be used in home settings.” But Maplewood Democrat Chuck Wiger says he’s hopeful there will be funding for universal pre-kindergarten. “There is a demand for this program,” Wiger says. “It’s the best way to ensure that students are ready for K, that students will graduate on time.”
Governor Mark Dayton in his revised budget asked lawmakers for 175 million dollars to expand voluntary pre-kindergarten in Minnesota. The House bill cuts funding for those programs. House Republicans have offered funding for school readiness programs but the governor indicates it doesn’t go far enough.
Here are Senator Nelson’s comments right after the bill passed:
And Senator Wiger’s comments: