Following her appearance earlier this morning in a Senate committee, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius presented Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposals to the House Education Finance Committee Wednesday afternoon.
The House committee was much more receptive to the governor’s early education-focused recommendations as there was quite a contrast in the line of questioning and comments compared to this morning’s Senate hearing (click here for related story). The House committee presented no questions or challenges about adequately funding the more than 800,000 K-12 public school students.
“This (budget) is targeted and focused,” Rep. Paul Marquart said. “The money is targeted to where it makes a difference. This budget is a springboard for meeting all the goals of the World’s Best Workforce.”
Relative to the universal prekindergarten proposal, Marquart asked Cassellius if public school districts would be allowed to charge a fee for early education. Cassellius answered: “No.”
The most noteworthy item is a weighted 0.5 per pupil unit for prekindergarten would be linked to the basic education funding formula, just like compensatory aid.
The governor’s goal would be to get 80 percent of 4-year-olds in free universal prekindergarten by 2021.
Rep. Jerry Newton brought up concerns with Minnesota Department of Education money going to day cares for providing early education.
Cassellius said the proposals will be in bill form in 10 to 15 days.