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Gov. Dayton Proposes $175 Million for Pre-K in Minnesota

March 28, 2017 07:00 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton wants to invest $175 million in Minnesota’s pre-kindergarten program. However, House Republicans say the state should stop paying for pre-K programs to allow for tax relief. Let these lawmakers know your views on early education funding in Minnesota.

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Gov. Mark Dayton has called for an additional $100 million in state funding for pre-kindergarten programs in Minnesota, bringing the total proposal to $175 million.

Dayton allocated $75 million to pre-K in his original budget request released in January.

However, House Republicans are proposing to do away with state funding for the early childhood education pilot program altogether in favor of other education initiatives.

Instead of pre-K, Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, wants to put about $40 million toward school readiness programs aimed especially at economically disadvantaged families. Loon said she believes targeting funding to students who need it most is a better approach. 

"This is the starting point," Loon said. "I do fully expect there will be some compromise on what the overall investment in education is for the state. I think we'll be able to reach an agreement at the end."

RELATED: $1.65 Billion Budget Surplus Awaits Minnesota Lawmakers

Dayton said his proposal would make pre-K opportunities available to more than 17,000 4-year-olds in Minnesota.

"As a kindergarten principal, I know the direct impact quality pre-K has on students transitioning to kindergarten," said Jessica Cabeen, principal of Woodson Kindergarten Center in Austin.

Loon said her biggest concern is that districts won't have the resources to help kids most in need. On the other hand, the Governor's office said the school readiness funding proposed by House Republicans would disappear in just a few years. 

Credits

Tim Vetscher and Lindsey Brown

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