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In this Times Our View editorial, the Times is upset because there might be 6 bills voted on during the special session:

Plus, with the indication the session will last only one day, it’s clear their deal-making will be done behind closed doors. How else are you going to get a divided Legislature to approve what could be six bills in less than 24 hours?

Yes, we said six bills — which raises another unsettling development about this special session. Shouldn’t its agenda be limited to the three bills Dayton vetoed?

Apparently that’s not what key leaders are thinking. As of Wednesday, reports indicated a bonding bill, a legacy bill and a tax bill could be taken up, along with the three bills the governor vetoed: the education bill, the environment-agriculture bill and the jobs-energy bill.

There’s nothing unsettling about voting on more bills than Gov. Dayton vetoed, though I’ll admit that I wouldn’t lose a split-second of sleep if we limited most bonding bills to fixing up universities and other public buildings. No, fixing up hockey arenas, civic centers and gorilla cages shouldn’t get a dime.

The truth is that Gov. Dayton pissed an entire week of negotiations away without putting together a budget. Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk broke off talks the last Friday of the regular session and put a budget together in 2 hours. The result of all those wasted hours of negotiations led to the Legacy Act funding bill not appropriating money to projects because they didn’t pass the bill before midnight.

Similarly, the Tax Bill didn’t need to get finished during this session. I suspect that there won’t be a Tax Bill if Gov. Dayton and Sen. Bakk don’t cough up money for the Republicans’ middle class tax relief.

This hissy fit is befitting of the Times:

Central Minnesotans should be truly astounded by the ineptness displayed on both sides of the aisle in this 2015 session. The state’s 201 legislators, along with Dayton, not only had more than four months to craft a two-year state budget, but they had an extra $1.9 billion to help negotiate their way through any hurdles.

Instead, they followed a path that’s become all too familiar the past decade or so. First, each side staked out its political grounds. Then they all dawdled for a few months while awaiting official budget projections. Finally, a handful of elected officials spent the last few days of the regular session behind closed doors trying to create — ahem — compromises from their original positions.

First off, the Times is careless in its description. The first few weeks of the session, as with all budget sessions, start with picking off easy policy bills, which the governor usually signs. Testimony was taken as a preliminary step to getting into the budget bills. This might be news to the Times but it’s impossible to create a budget until it’s known if there’s a deficit. This time there wasn’t, which posed its own dynamics.

Once the legislature got the February budget projection, they got to work and produced a budget. The lion’s share of the blame that it wasn’t completed on time can be placed on Gov. Dayton’s and Lt. Gov. Smith’s desks. They insisted steadfastly that we fund Education Minnesota’s universal pre-K initiative. That was easily the most ideological fight of the session. The proof is that they’re still haggling over it even though Republicans and Art Rolnick have shown Minnesotans the specific flaws in the Dayton-Smith-Education Minnesota plan.

Yesterday morning, another DFL LTE lied to the public in the DFL’s attempt to appease Education Minnesota. Here’s Kat Harrison’s LTE, complete with highlighted DFL propaganda:

Anyone trying to portray Senate Democrats as opposed to Gov. Mark Dayton is flat out wrong. Majority Leader Tom Bakk, Assistant Majority Leader Katie Sieben, education chair Sen. Chuck Wiger and many other senators have been very vocal about their support for the governor’s plan.

The reason why they weren’t able to pass a bill including pre-K for our youngest learners was due to the refusal of House Republicans. Why did they block this opportunity for Minnesota’s kids? It’s thanks to their quest for, above all else, tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy. They’d rather sacrifice our kids than the wealthy donors they bow down to.

First, Harrison’s assertion that Senate Democrats support Gov. Dayton’s plan is a fanciful portrayal of the truth. I wrote this post, complete with a picture of the voting board in the Senate, that showed the Education Bill passing by a vote of 52-14. If Ms. Harrison thinks that Democrats supported Gov. Dayton’s education proposal, why didn’t Gov. Dayton’s proposal pass the Senate? His proposal was defeated. Also, if Democrats supported Gov. Dayton’s proposal, why did the conference committee report, which rejected Gov. Dayton’s proposal, pass with a veto-proof majority in the Senate?

Second, Republicans didn’t reject Gov. Dayton’s proposal to pay for tax cuts for “the rich.” That isn’t saying Republicans didn’t want to pass tax cuts. It’s just that they weren’t for “the rich.” Republicans rejected Gov. Dayton’s early childhood learning proposal because it’s terrible policy. Why would a sane person pass a bill that’s filled with unfunded mandates and a hidden $2,200,000,000 property tax increase? Why would sane people vote for legislation that isn’t financially sustainable?

The Association of Minneapolis School Districts (AMSD) rejected Gov. Dayton’s proposal. The Minnesota School Board Association rejected it, too.

If the DFL insists on lying about tax cuts to “millionaires and billionaires”, then it’s time to tell the DFL to produce proof that substantiates their accusations. This Friday night, I hope a Republican panelist on Almanac’s Roundtable insists that the DFL legislator produce proof of their accusation. If they make that accusation, insist that they tell you what section of the tax bill the tax cuts for big corporations and “the rich” are located in. Tell them firmly that you’re rejecting their accusations as lies until they can cite which section of the tax bill these tax cuts for the wealthy are in.

Embarrass the DFL legislators if it’s required. Teach them the lesson that their reckless accusations comes with a price. Pitchers throw a pitch inside to a batter leaning out over the plate to stop them from getting an advantage on pitches to the outside corner of the plate. Republicans should apply that principle with Democrats by exposing their lies with facts.

It’s time to give the DFL an incentive to not lie. That doesn’t come by gently disagreeing with them when they’re lying through their teeth. It comes by exposing them as outright liars.

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This scathing editorial doesn’t mince words. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what Bill Hanna’s opinion of Gov. Dayton is:

And now, unencumbered by running another election campaign, Dayton evidently feels free to wage a nasty bipartisan political battle with not only traditional GOP opposition but also with DFL leaders and lawmakers who worked compromises with a $1.9 billion budget surplus to reach adjournment on time without the need for a special session.

Dayton has turned to name-calling to try to get his way. He has said that Republicans who would back his early childhood funding request of another $170 million “hate public schools.” That prompted eight House GOP lawmakers, who also have experience in teaching in the public schools, to respond in a much more civil way than how the governor labeled them.

Gov. Dayton has also thrown verbal jabs at DFLers, including Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook, who supported the K-12 $400 million education bill. Dayton said he was “astounded” that anyone calling themselves a Democrat would support it.

In terms of the budget fight, Gov. Dayton still has everything he needs to shut the government down, which is his veto pen. It doesn’t matter that people are infuriated with him. It doesn’t matter that he’s acting like a spoiled brat throwing a hissy fit. In that context, it doesn’t matter whether he’s so unlikable that he’d need to tie a pork chop around his neck just to get dogs to play with him.

In that context, all that’s needed is his veto pen.

At some point, though, the DFL will turn on Gov. Dayton. They’ll deny it but they’ll turn on Gov. Dayton. Mr. Hanna is right in saying that Gov. Dayton was “never a darling of the DFL Party leadership apparatus”. In 2010, then-Candidate Dayton wasn’t even allowed to address the DFL convention in Duluth. That tension disappeared until Sen. Bakk ambushed him over the commissioners’ raises. That re-opened old wounds. This quote will be remembered:

“To have a majority leader of the Senate come in and stab me in the back and blindside me is absolutely unacceptable,” Dayton said. “I’m confronted with two hostile bodies of the Legislature, one with a leader I believe I can trust (Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt) and one I know I can’t trust,” Dayton said. “I certainly learned a brutal lesson today that I can’t trust (Bakk.) I can’t believe what he says to me and connives behind my back.”

Gov. Dayton is losing allies fast. Right now, his closest allies are Rep. Thissen and Lt. Gov. Tina Flint-Smith. Lt. Gov. Smith hasn’t shown herself to have the ability to build coalitions. Rep. Thissen thinks that what’s good for the Twin Cities is good for Minnesota. In that sense, they’re both useless in helping outstate candidates win elections.

When the DFL turns on Gov. Dayton, it will partially be because he’s become a liability to their own re-election. The Dayton-Smith-Thissen coalition might be popular in the suburbs but it isn’t popular in the exurbs and rural Minnesota.

It’s time to put this shutdown puzzle together. This article highlights the role Tina Smith played during budget negotiations. First, here’s the information setting up that situation:

A few hours before the governor stood in his entryway waiting for Bakk or Daudt to reply to his education funding demands, the 41-year-old Daudt of conservative Crown and 60-year-old Bakk of the DFL-strong Iron Range, stood on the well-manicured lawn of the Governor’s Residence. Bakk told the horde of waiting media: “The speaker and I have agreed” on a deal. Dayton’s lack of concurrence was barely mentioned. Bakk said negotiations had “absolutely stalled,” and time was pressing. “I had to make a deal with the House that the governor doesn’t support,” Bakk said later.

Daudt, on his first tour leading the House, said he, too, had the Monday midnight deadline weighing on him. For days, he, Bakk, the governor and their staff had been locked in cordial but unproductive debate over the budget, all three parties admit. “We spent about five hours today and we adopted nothing,” Bakk said late that Friday night. Spacing out each word, he added: “We ran out of time.”

They had gotten bogged down on details without hitting on any sweeping agreements.

“The pivotal movement was that Friday afternoon where we, and I, said: ‘We’ve got to do it now or it’s not going to happen,'” Daudt later said. With that attitude, the leaders and Dayton stopped their meeting in the mansion’s grand piano room, which had been the site of hours of talks, so lawmakers could speak without the governor. They then worked out what turned into the budget the Legislature approved.

It came together within the course of two hours,” Daudt said.

In other words, Bakk and Daudt got the biggest obstacle out of the room, which helped them quickly finish the job. Their only stumbling block was that the chief obstructionists couldn’t be permanently excluded. That’s where Smith’s influence returned:

Meanwhile, Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius picked over the portion of the budget lawmakers set aside for preschool through high school funding. The money, $400 million in new spending against the backdrop of a $1.9 billion surplus, was not adequate, they decided. After all, the current budget, created while the state was struggling with deficits, had a $600 million increase for schools.

“I won’t accept anything less than $550 (million),” Dayton pledged that Friday night. Smith said of the Legislature: “In my mind, they cast the dice.” They bargained for a deal, without the governor, which is their prerogative, both Smith and Dayton said. The governor has the prerogative to sign or veto their results.

SPECIAL NOTICE to Lt. Gov. Smith: Thanks for highlighting the fact that you, Gov. Dayton and Commissioner Cassellius will be blamed for the shutdown, along with the House DFL. If Gov. Dayton had vetoed the bill, the only thing standing in the way of a veto override were House DFL legislators.

This has Smith’s fingerprints written all over it:

Daudt will meet again with Dayton on Tuesday. He wants to start from the end point – only $25 million apart and no universal preschool. “We were fairly close, so I hope that we can just pick up where we left off,” Daudt said. Dayton has signaled he wants to start fresh. On Saturday, he said he would like lawmakers to approve $650 million for schools, $250 million more than the Legislature approved, and a voluntary preschool program.

In the past, Gov. Dayton has been willing to negotiate from a (relatively) good faith position. Starting from scratch is a foolish political stunt that a political novice would think of. That description fits only Tina Smith.

While she was Gov. Dayton’s chief of staff, Smith didn’t interject herself into negotiations like she’s doing now. The fact that she’s part of the trio that decided to shut down the government in their attempt to appease Education Minnesota speaks volumes about who she is. It’s apparent that Gov. Dayton picked Tina Smith as his Lt. Gov. because she’s part of the obstructionist/true believer wing of the DFL.

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One of the questions that people are asking is whether Gov. Dayton will shut government down again. Based on what Tom Dennis wrote in this Our View Editorial, I’m betting Gov. Dayton will shut government down because he isn’t willing to accept a superior policy to his universal pre-K initiative:

Gov. Dayton, you should have listened to Art Rolnick.

If you had, you could have gotten everything you wanted: more money for early-childhood education, a bipartisan consensus at the Legislature and a legislative session that ended on time.

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d be celebrating Christmas. Rather than showing flexibility, as several journalists/editorialists have suggested, Gov. Dayton is growing increasingly inflexible. It isn’t just that Republican and DFL legislators rejected Gov. Dayton’s proposal. It isn’t money that’s keeping them apart. It’s that Gov. Dayton’s proposal is terrible policy:

Rolnick (and many other early-childhood education advocates) thinks Dayton has seized the wrong high ground. For the governor’s plan “is only for 4-year-olds,” Rolnick said on Minnesota Public Radio last week. “We really have to start much earlier.” Plus, “it’s a public-school-only approach,” which would rob parents of their ability to choose. “We don’t think one size fits all parents.

“And unfortunately, the governor’s new program—which we are strongly questioning—is very expensive,” because it calls for schools statewide to hire unionized pre-K teachers. Far better to use the money to finance scholarships for low-income children—scholarships that could pay for quality pre-schools long before the youngsters turn 4. “The governor’s plan is universal in the sense that it includes all 4-year-olds,” he said. “Our scholarships can be universal, too. But the first dollars—we should make sure we first fund all our at-risk kids.”

Speaker Daudt, I’m simply suggesting that you outline your objections to Gov. Dayton’s plans. Right now, Gov. Dayton sounds like he’s fighting for the moral high ground on this issue. We both know that he isn’t.

Outlining the deficiencies in Gov. Dayton’s initiative will immediately strip him of that moral high ground. Highlight the fact that Gov. Dayton’s plan will drive up property taxes in Twin Cities suburbs because they’ll have to add onto their schools because they’re already overcrowded. Highlight the fact that Gov. Dayton’s proposal will increase operating levies for school districts because his plan doesn’t have anything in it for additional transportation costs or heating new classrooms.

Just because Gov. Dayton won’t pay for those expenses doesn’t mean those expenses don’t exist.

After you outline these objections, then it’s time to sell what you’re proposing. I know that you want to fund scholarships that would help at-risk children get the help they need. It’s time the entire state learned that about your initiative. I also know that you aren’t trying to undermine child care centers where children get lots of one-on-one time with their instructors. Let Minnesota know that you want more children to get that type of benefit. Finally, tell parents the most important thing, that these programs already exist and that they’re already working.

After you’ve finished doing those 2 things, Gov. Dayton won’t hold the moral high ground. You will. After that, the fight is essentially over. At that point, you will have painted him into a corner that he’s sharing with Education Minnesota, not with Minnesota’s children.

Either that or just highlight Ruben Rosario’s interview of Art Rolnick. I’d especially highlight this information:

RR: Now, the average person would think that universal preschool does sound pretty good and could benefit all kids …

AR: Their “universal” is very restrictive. It’s public only and 4-year-olds only. Now scholarships could be made universal very easily. But why would we limit it to public only? There’s no reason to do that. Now, do you really want to give a scholarship to people who make over $200,000 a year? Millionaires? It does not make any sense. The governor is way off track here. If we take it to scale, our program will cost $200 million to cover every child in the state born into poverty. His program, when it is fully funded, is $400 million a year, and he needs $2.2 billion for infrastructure because the schools don’t have the infrastructure. So, it doesn’t make any economic sense. It’s going to end up to be another program for middle-class families.

Gov. Dayton’s moral high ground just disappeared.

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When I wrote this post, I said that “Dayton has jumped across the line from being critical to being unhinged to the point of being totally disrespectful.” I’m not the only one who noticed. Joe Soucheray noticed, too:

The governor seems to have drifted off, to where we don’t exactly know, but wherever he is, the color of the sky is different. He claims that some Republican legislators hate public schools.

“I realize they hate public schools, some of the Republican legislators,” Dayton said last week after he said he would call a special session to pass an education bill more to his liking. “And they are loath to provide any additional money for public schools and for public school teachers because all the good programs … contradict what they say, which is public schools do everything badly.”

Those are the words of an addled fellow. An additional $400 million had been proposed for education spending, agreed to by both parties, to produce $17 billion in education spending.

I’ll be blunt. Since he announced that he was “unbound” because he wasn’t running for election ever again, Gov. Dayton has been extremely disrespectful. Hateful is too strong a word but extremely disrespectful fits perfectly. Here’s what he said initially that started this fiasco:

“I realize they hate public schools, some of the Republican legislators. And they are loath to provide any additional money for public schools and for public school teachers because all the good programs … contradict what they say, which is public schools do everything badly.”

Last week, 9 GOP legislators who either were or are teachers sent a letter to Gov. Dayton. Here’s their letter:

Painting with broad brushes smears innocent people. These days, Gov. Dayton is painting with one broad brush after another. It isn’t like his universal pre-K initiative is universally liked. It’s getting met with lots of opposition from across the political spectrum. Rather than persuading people that his initiatives are great public policy, Gov. Dayton has opted for vilifying his opposition.

During his first term, Gov. Dayton was somewhat of a gentleman. This year, he’s been a total jerk. He’s never been a policy wonk, which meant that, on his best days, he was tolerable. Unfortunately, he isn’t tolerable anymore. Now he’s unhinged. I don’t see him changing back.

There’s no question that Mark Dayton and Tina Smith are fighters. It’s unfortunate that they’re fighting for the DFL’s most entrenched special interest group, aka Education Minnesota. Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith have sent the unmistakable message that their highest priority is fulfilling Education Minnesota’s wish list:

Here’s the Dayton-Smith-DFL propaganda:

Today, Governor Mark Dayton visited Apple Valley’s Westview Elementary, continuing his push to ensure every Minnesota four-year-old has access to high-quality preschool. Governor Dayton’s pre-K proposal would provide universal access to voluntary half-day preschool programs, helping ensure that every Minnesota child gets a great start, preparing them for kindergarten, and future success in school and life.

“We have already seen the tremendous successes of all-day kindergarten, which got underway just this year,” said Governor Dayton. “But we have a lot more work to do to narrow Minnesota’s achievement gap, and provide excellent educations for every student in Minnesota. That work has to start now, and it must begin with our youngest learners.”

Here’s the Republicans’ counterargument:

There were a host of problems with the governor’s proposal, including opposition from school districts because they do not have enough classrooms to accommodate these students, opposition from existing private pre-K providers, opposition from parents concerned about government overreach, and concern about the additional cost of a universal pre-K program. It is hard to envision a scenario where the governor’s proposal gains widespread support in the short time between now and when a special session would take place. The governor had already dropped it in final negotiations that were taking place just before session ended.

It isn’t just that part of the Dayton-Smith proposal is being met with opposition. It’s that most of the Dayton-Smith initiative faces stiff opposition from multiple organizations across the political spectrum. What’s puzzling is why Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Smith are expending this much political capital. Politicians don’t usually spend this much political capital on a marginal bill or an insignificant provision in an important bill.

Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Smith don’t care about the taxpayers. If they did, they wouldn’t propose a bill with tens of millions of dollars of unfunded mandates in it. They certainly wouldn’t subject these 4-year-olds to a risky plan that’s filled with boom-or-bust possibilities. Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Smith shouldn’t be given the benefit of any doubt. They should be given a swift boot for playing hardball with a terrible idea.

In private conversations, I’ve told friends that the outlines for a budget deal are starting to appear. I said that before this article was published. Here’s why I view the article as confirmation that a compromise is starting to appear:

One prominent advocate has clearly chosen the latter. “I looked at the governor’s veto letter and at the long list of things that did not get funded,” said Art Rolnick, the former Federal Reserve economist who did the original, groundbreaking research that showed an eye-popping return on investing tax dollars in early ed. “I agree with him. It’s pretty upsetting there’s no money for the North Side Achievement Zone, no money for the Head Start waiting list. I think it’s important that the governor is speaking out for early childhood education. I agree with him; with this surplus we should be investing a lot more.”

Rolnick said he was particularly encouraged to hear that Dayton was willing to be flexible about the way early childhood services are delivered. “We need a governor with that kind of leadership.”

Early-ed advocates had been stuck between fearing that the special session that has now become inevitable could result in even less new education spending than the $400 million in the bill passed Monday, and throwing their weight behind a pre-K proposal they have described as impractical and overly one-size-fits-all. The idea that the governor might be willing to direct meaningful funding increases to multiple approaches to targeting pre-K resources seemed to provide a roadmap out of the impasse.

Republicans always included money for pre-K scholarships in their K-12 education budget bill. From the start, the Republican plan included funding for the Rolnick-favored scholarship plan. Gov. Dayton rejected that plan, saying that Republicans “hated education.” 9 Republicans wrote this letter to Gov. to highlight their disgust with Gov. Dayton’s over-the-top rhetoric:

In their letter, Republicans highlight the fact that the bill they passed and that Gov. Dayton vetoed included $60,000,000 “in new funding for proven early learning initiatives, including early education scholarships and school pre-K aid.”

Gov. Dayton insisted on $173,000,000 for half-day pre-K and that it be done in public schools. I included the list of specific requirements Gov. Dayton put in his proposal in this post.

Gov. Dayton wasn’t interested in flexibility then. In fact, the worst-kept secret at the Capitol was that Gov. Dayton and Sen. Bakk could “win” the PR fight if there was a shutdown.

While I give Dr. Rolnick credit for thinking up a positive solution for early learning, I won’t hesitate in criticizing him for talking about Gov. Dayton’s “leadership” during this brinksmanship. Gov. Dayton wasn’t interested in being a statesman at that point.

When Gov. Dayton said that he wasn’t running for office again, he said that he was finally “unbound.” What he really meant is that he’s finally unhinged. Insisting that the legislature pass Education Minnesota’s universal pre-K program appears to have turned Gov. Dayton into a walking diatribe machine. Doug Grow has noticed that Gov. Dayton’s plan is risky:

Dayton’s veto vow comes despite the fact that the Legislature has had little time to digest this major education initiative. And he’s making the vow despite the fact that it’s not just Republican legislators who are saying “no,” but many school administrators, who are cool to an idea that would not only be very costly but has raised other questions about its value. Even early-childhood advocates question whether a “one-size-fits-all” public school pre-K program is good policy.

Now, even Bakk is calling Dayton’s veto pledge “risky.” The obvious risk is to school districts, which are saying that even with the additional $400 million included in the current deal, they will have to cut programs and lay off staff. Without that $400 million infusion, there will be cuts deeply felt by every school district in the state.

That means there will be political fallout. If the veto happens, there could also be chaos. Administration officials say a veto could mean a shutdown of the Minnesota Department of Education, which would halt teacher licensing and, of course, mean no added funds to the formula going out to cash-strapped districts.

When Gov. Dayton travels the state campaigning for his pre-K plan, he will be met with lots of resistance, much of it from past allies. This won’t turn out well. Unfortunately for him, that isn’t his only problem:

A long-time teacher and state representative wants Gov. Mark Dayton to apologize for saying some Republican lawmakers “hate the public schools.”

Dayton’s remark came during a Tuesday news conference he called to discuss his plans to veto a education funding bill that passed the House and Senate Monday. The $400 million in new spending isn’t enough for Dayton and he’s frustrated it also omits his top priority of universal preschool.

Gov. Dayton will lose the state’s voters if he continues with these over-the-top diatribes. It’s one thing to be critical. It’s another to be unhinged. Right now, Gov. Dayton has jumped across the line from being critical to being unhinged to the point of being totally disrespectful. He isn’t just saying Republicans are wrong. He’s essentially accusing Republicans of being evil and mean-spirited.

ABM’s ad campaign will be a waste of money if Gov. Dayton can’t control his temper.

ABM is launching another ad campaign, this time to push Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K initiative across the finish line. Predictably, ABM’s latest campaign is filled with dishonesty:

“Minnesota Republicans — especially in the House — need to be held accountable for putting corporations ahead of working families’ priorities,” says Alliance for a Better Minnesota Executive Director Joe Davis. “The GOP repeatedly pushed for special treatment for big business, but shortchanged our schools.”

Here’s how Catharine Richert dropped the hammer on ABM’s BS:

Of course, this being politics, the story the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is trying to tell in its ads is more complicated than that. House Republicans and Senate Democrats agreed to put $400 million more into K-12 education. Dayton wants $150 million more than that to fund pre-kindergarten in public schools, and says he will veto the bill as a result.

TRANSLATION: ABM omitted the part about Republicans and Democrats, specifically, Kurt Daudt and Tom Bakk, agreed to this budget last Friday. ABM’s ad campaign doesn’t mention that the DFL Senate voted down Gov. Dayton’s proposal 2 weeks ago. I’ve written repeatedly about Dayton’s unwillingness to accept a bipartisan rejection.

Education experts like Art Rolnick, a former member of the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis, have criticized Gov. Dayton’s plan:

Rolnick, now a policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has made researching early childhood education a big part of his life’s work. He argues that the earlier kids start a good education, the better off they will be in life. But he doesn’t back the governor’s universal preschool plan for 4-year-olds.

“It’s not cost effective,” Rolnick said. “There’s a much better way of doing this.” Rolnick prefers an existing scholarship program that pays for needy children to attend Head Start, a child care facility or a public school program that meets quality standards. He said Dayton’s plan is misguided because it would subsidize early education for all kids rather than target low-income children who need early education the most and are the least likely to have access to it.

Gov. Dayton’s had the entire session to build support for his plan. That clearly hasn’t happened. This article highlights why Gov. Dayton’s proposal likely won’t pass:

Some school districts indicated to the House Education Finance Committee that they don’t have space to add “basically an entire new grade in our public school system,” its chair, Rep. Jenifer Loon, an Eden Prairie Republican, told us.

There’s concern about facilities, equipment and transportation, she said. “There may be money the governor is proposing per pupil, but there’s no money there to help districts if they have to build classrooms,” for example. “That’s a huge cost that would largely fall on local property taxpayers.”

That’s a gigantic property tax increase waiting to happen. Then there’s this:

“The high return to the public is in investing in our most at-risk children,” Rolnick said. In the study that made him a national leader in the fields of child development and social policy, “we got an 18 percent inflation-adjusted return when you invest in our most at-risk kids.”

Such findings, it’s been suggested, run counter to committing a broad stream of resources to serve all children.

Plus, says Rolnick, we now have evidence from St. Paul’s Promise Neighborhood that a key approach — an emphasis on preschool scholarships — is closing the achievement gap between white students and their peers of color.

This is documented, indisputable proof of what works. Dr. Rolnick wants to solve a problem. Gov. Dayton wants to pay off a political ally. I’ll pick solutions to difficult problems over paying off political allies with terrible policies every time.

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