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Minnesota Opinion: Legilsature frustration goes across the state

From Forum News Service A recent editorial from a Minnesota newspaper. Legilsature frustration goes across the state On May 18, with the prospect of an expensive and unnecessary special session of the Minnesota Legislature frustratingly looking m...

From Forum News Service

A recent editorial from a Minnesota newspaper.

Legilsature frustration goes across the state

On May 18, with the prospect of an expensive and unnecessary special session of the Minnesota Legislature frustratingly looking more and more likely, the Duluth News Tribune offered sharp criticism.

“Not again,” we lamented on the Opinion page. “It’s safe to say Minnesotans have grown weary of special sessions and overtime legislating. Get your work done on time, we say, the state Constitution backing us up all the way.”

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We weren’t alone.

“Governor errs in vetoing education budget bill,” read the editorial in the Owatonna People’s Press in southeastern Minnesota. The veto is what will require lawmakers to return to St. Paul for more work.

“It’s not that we’re against early childhood education. Just the opposite,” the editorial read, echoing the News Tribune’s view. “(But) the Owatonna school district, for one, is already facing space issues without having to find more room to house pre-K students. ...”

Also in southeastern Minnesota, Winona Daily News columnist Jerome Christenson agreed, saying the special session will be “over (a) lack of funding (to) guarantee every toddler fresh out of Pull-ups a seat in a public school classroom. … That’s a lot of political clout for folks who’ve yet to master tying their own shoes. ...

“For those 4-year-olds, the critical issue isn’t the assurance of a seat in a classroom - it’s the assurance there will be food in the refrigerator and a bed of their own in a home they feel safe to fall asleep in,” Christenson wrote toward the end of his piece. “Close the income gap, close the housing gap, close the nutrition gap, and we’ll close the achievement gap. It’s the only way.”

The St. Paul Pioneer Press, too, said, “The case for universal pre-K remains thin,” as it headlined its editorial.

Even if the argument for the early learning isn’t thin, the governor clearly didn’t do enough to sell the priority to lawmakers. Neither the Republican-led House nor the DFL-majority Senate included pre-K for 4-year-olds in their education bills. ...

“The governor failed to make a persuasive case,” the St. Paul newspaper opined, also echoing the News Tribune. “Universal pre-K - adding hundreds of millions of dollars of permanently increasing permanent spending, regardless of need - would spread an expensive, thin blanket over the whole state, rather than wrapping more layers around a smaller number of kids who need much more.

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“Certainly, there’s value in high-quality pre-K experiences for our children. Such access, however, needn’t be a centrally directed, one-size-fits-all mandate from the state. Far better, many think, is a system that builds on strong elements in place, including scholarships, Parent Aware ratings, a network of private providers and other options that offer the advantage of parental choice and market forces,” said the editorial from the Minnesota capital.

Frustration over a looming special session extends beyond its expense, the promise of yet more political nastiness and Dayton’s education-bill veto.

In its editorial, the Marshall Independent criticized the childish, does-nothing finger-pointing and the blame games of both parties: “(A) headline in a Minnesota House DFL news release May 19 from the office of the House’s top dog, Democrat Paul Thissen, read like this: ‘Session ends in chaos with House Republicans failing to deliver for hardworking Minnesotans.’ Way to go, Republicans. Another headline, this one from the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus, went like this: ‘Democrat Dysfunction Leads to Disappointing Session.’ Way to go, Democrats.”

“If the 2015 legislative session proves anything,” the St. Cloud Times opined, “it’s that making important public policy … (is) driven - or obstructed - by a handful of top elected leaders refusing to compromise. ...

“How else do you explain a governor vetoing an entire bipartisan education bill simply because it does not contain his top priority? Never mind that few legislators see it that way - as do even fewer groups with vested interests in education. ...

“How else do you explain a DFL Senate leader and that GOP House leader both having five months to conduct their bodies’ business, yet to make deadline each has to ram through critical bills in the session’s final moments without allowing debate or even time to read those measures?”

Even worse: With a special session looming, there’s more of this to come.

- Duluth News Tribune

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