K-12 spending plan nears finish line


A $15.7 billion plan to fund Minnesota’s schools is clearing its final hurdles at the Capitol.

Senate and House members emerged from negotiations this weekend with a two-year budget that includes landmark spending on all-day kindergarten, along with increases for special education, preschool scholarships and classrooms across the state.

The House passed the bill, HF630*/ SF453, on a 78-56 vote early Sunday after a nearly four-hour debate. The bill goes next to the Senate for a final vote, then to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth) and Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), would increase state spending on education by $485 million over two years. About half of the new money would go on the basic school funding formula, with increases of 1.5 percent each year. In what DFLers say is a first, another $134 million would fully fund optional all-day kindergarten across the state.

The bill’s policy changes include a controversial plan to end high-stakes state graduation exams, replacing them with a new set of tests on which students would not have to achieve a minimum score in order to graduate.