Posted: 06/02/15 09:46
by Dave Mindeman
It looks like Pre-K is not going to be part of the budget deal. Dayton settled for an increase in the per pupil formula - which will probably allow some districts to offer it.
But the House GOP managed to obstruct and block more progress in education which the Governor is envisioning as the way forward for Minnesota.
GOP tactics were pretty lame. They added policy issues (transgender bathrooms and repeal of LIFO) into the game as red herrings. Setting up a smokescreen that took the focus off the education funding questions and which were clearly meant to frustrate the Governor - who assumed they were talking about one thing, only to be distracted by policy that was never in the original conference bill.
When parents are offered a chance at Pre-K, they take it. Those that can afford it, find a way. But so many parents are both working and barely covering their basic expenses. To them, Pre-K is an education luxury that they just have to leave off the table.
Peter Bell, who is now with the GOP think tank - the Center For The American Experiment - wrote an op-ed in the strib stating that, "For projects like prekindergarten, there's no way to calculate what today's spending will mean to budgets in 10 years." He says that big returns on these investments is a "myth". Apparently ignoring the numerous studies that prove those investments are real an tangible. Maybe they can't fully account for all the variables, but the data moves only in one direction - a significant return on investment.
I guarantee you that a Pre-K return is a lock compared to the idea that tax cuts stimulate the economy.
I hope the House Democrats take this to the 2016 elections. It is clear that the House GOP blocked an opportunity for Pre-K. The money was there....in the bank...but when the 2016 session unfolds, we will see that money getting used for more tax cutting measures and ridiculous policy ideas.
Picking and choosing which 4 year olds are given Pre-K opportunities puts us back into probable achievement gap issues. Sure some poor kids will get the help, but where do you draw the line? Who moves forward and who stays behind. Why can't we just put all of Minnesota's kids on the same level playing field?
It is another lost opportunity. Add it to the pile that the House GOP sacrifices for their estate tax cuts and one time tax rebates and business property tax breaks.
Shuffling money around on a paper trail is not a vision for Minnesota's future. Dayton has put this state on a path to prosperity, but he has more ideas to fulfill.
Next year, take back the House and move Minnesota back on that forward path again.