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      Today in the Budget

      Posted on February 21, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      Governor Dayton and Commissioner Cassellius read to students at Northport Elementary School
      Governor Dayton and Commissioner Cassellius read to students at Northport Elementary School 

      Today, the Star Tribune editorial board highlighted the need to invest in early learning, citing the work of Minnesota economist Art Rolnick that shows “for every dollar invested in preschool, society receives a $17 return.” The Star Tribune praised President Obama and Governor Dayton for making early childhood education a priority. The governor’s plan would boost funding for early childhood education and all-day Kindergarten – giving our youngest learners the tools to succeed in school and life.
      Right now, half of Minnesota children are coming to school unprepared to learn; and Minnesota’s achievement gap is one of the worst in the nation. That is why Governor Dayton’s budget would provide early childhood scholarships for 11,000 more Minnesota students. And it would provide free all-day Kindergarten for 46,000 students statewide. These investments require new revenues proposed in the governor’s tax reform plan.
      Today, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius is meeting with students and teachers in Austin to discuss the governor’s proposed investments in all-day Kindergarten, and to highlight the need for additional investments in our youngest learners.
      In the News
      Star Tribune Editorial
      For too long, Minnesota’s 3- to 5-year-olds have not been high on the state funding priority list — even though most research proves the educational and societal value of strong early education.
      But welcome momentum is building in St. Paul and Washington, and this could be a banner year for Minnesota’s youngest learners. Under proposals at both the state and federal levels, early learning could receive a much-needed funding boost that would give thousands more youngsters a shot to be better lifelong students and successful adults.
      Under Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget plan and the supporting House education bill, preschool and kindergarten would receive an additional $84 million annually. That would fund the expansion of all-day kindergarten, preschool and scholarships for quality child care for the state’s neediest students.

      Duluth News Tribune
      Duluth Mayor Don Ness came out strongly in support of increased state economic development funding Wednesday. He joined Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development, to make the case for Gov. Mark Dayton’s request that the state provide $30 million in support of the Minnesota Investment Fund.]
      That fund ran dry more than six months ago, and the program received its last appropriation — $3 million — a couple of years ago. Ness said that by working with the state, Duluth has been able to achieve great things.
      “We’ve had a number of great success stories over the past year that demonstrate the importance of this partnership: from AAR and the creation of 225 maintenance jobs to the corporate tower in downtown Duluth that will bring $80 million to our community,” he said.
      Maple Grove Patch
      The Counties Transit Improvement Board voted at its February meeting to support Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed quarter-cent local sales tax increase for dedicated transit funding in the region.
      “Not only are we competing for scarce federal dollars to build transit investments like the Southwest Light Rail Line, we are also competing with other regions to attract companies and talent," said Counties Transit Improvement Board Chair Peter McLaughlin. "Using the metro area sales tax as a long-term funding source allows the region to plan ahead and build the kinds of transit investments Minnesota needs.”
      The proposed quarter-cent increase in the regional transit sales tax would be imposed across the seven-county metropolitan region for the build-out of the Metropolitan Council's adopted plan for transit expansion. This would include new light rail transit, bus rapid transit or commuter rail lines to serve major corridors; expanding the bus system to meet growing ridership across the region; and providing a long-term source of funding to stabilize operating budgets.