The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 20, 2013

Dayton education plan draws scrutiny from legislators



Republicans on the committee agreed. State Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen of Glencoe said the state's contribution to local operating levies hasn't kept pace with inflation. He said that's put many rural school districts further behind their counterparts in the Twin Cities metro area.

"My thought was to tie an inflation factor to that, which there isn't right now, to the operating referendum, so that you gradually close that gap over a period of time, rather than continue to see it widen, especially for the rural districts," Gruenhagen said.

But some legislators aren't as eager to tinker. State Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul told the committee that he thinks the governor's proposal is sound and logical. Mariani compared the interconnected provisions of the plan to the legs of stool.

"If you pull one leg off of a stool, then the stool doesn't stand," he said. "So, I think whatever we do, Mr. Chair, in terms of making adjustment to the governor's logic here, that we remember that there is a logic, and whatever adjustment we make we know we're going we have to put another leg on the stool, if you will."

Dayton also weighed in on the funding equity issue. He told reporters that legislators are welcome to make changes, but he cautioned that such changes will require them to spend more money.

"Equity is in the eyes of the beholder," the governor said. "Unless you have a lot of money to facilitate that change in formula, you get winners and losers, and the losers are unhappy. But if they can find a way to do it and do it successfully then more power to them."

Republicans have also criticized Dayton for leaving out $1.1 billion needed to deliver delayed payments to Minnesota school districts, money that previous budget deals held back.

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