Gov. Mark Dayton on Saturday addressed Education Minnesota delegates at their annual convention and urged them to call on legislators and tell them to support his $343-million plan to offer universal access preschool for the state's 4-year-olds.
Dayton's speech ended the annual convention, attended by about 600 delegates who gathered to discuss state and federal education issues and vote on changes to the union's constitution, among other union activities.
The second-term governor has pledged to spend much of the state's $1.9 billion projected surplus on education. Dayton said that his signature legislative proposal -- universal access to preschool -- is one that would help close the state's glaring achievement gap.
But with four weeks left until the end of the legislative session, the plan has not gained traction with the Legislature. The GOP-led House and the DFL-led Senate did not include funding for it in the education bills they unveiled last week.
"Now is the time to make the push," Dayton told delegates. "Now is the time, these next four weeks where [the Legislature is] going to decide… and believe me, they need to hear from every one of you and every one of your members, every one of your friends and families, especially legislators in your districts. Hold them to the test."
Education Minnesota, which represents 70,000 educators throughout the state, last week launched a television ad campaign in support of Dayton's education agenda.