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Associated Press, Published May 22 2013

Minn. Gov. Dayton signs $15.7 billion education bill

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has signed an education package that boosts spending on schools and scales back high-stakes testing.

Dayton and Democratic legislators on Wednesday celebrated the $15.7 billion bill, which is about $485 million more than the state spends now. A centerpiece is a state commitment to pay for all-day kindergarten programs, eliminating the practice of fee-based programs by the 2014-15 school year.

The new law also adds to the per-pupil formula that determines the amount of state aid schools get. In signing the bill, Dayton said “more money for education doesn't absolutely guarantee success but less money for education absolutely guarantees failure.”

The legislation also reduces the emphasis on graduation exams for high school students, giving them more options to prove their aptitude.

The late flurry of bills the Minnesota Legislature passed in the session's final hours now sit on Dayton's desk.

The final batch was formally delivered Wednesday. That step starts a window for him to sign or veto bills. One budget bill, an economic development finance package, reached his desk Tuesday.

Governors have three full days to consider bills. The full budget and everything else must be decided on by Saturday night at the latest.

Because Dayton and the legislative majorities are both Democratic, the presumption is the budget will be signed. But there is a chance Dayton could eliminate some spending provisions with his line-item veto authority.

Dayton declined to say Wednesday if he would scuttle parts of an environmental finance bill, as some outdoors groups want.


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