Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday said he is warning legislators who have called for tax cuts in next year’s legislative session that he has at least one condition: more money for preschool.

“Anybody … in the Legislature who thinks we’re going to give all this money back in tax cuts better understand that I will not sign a tax bill that does not have an equitable amount overall for early childhood,” Dayton told reporters.

Dayton was in Minneapolis highlighting a national poll that showed Minnesota ranked No. 1 in the well-being of its children. Dayton, however, said while the news is good for the state, it shouldn't mask the fact that disparaties still affect low-income and minority children. 

Legislators recently approved about $80 million in new spending on early education programs, but more needs to be done to expand access, Dayton said. The Legislature handed Dayton a defeat when it snubbed his proposal for universal preschool offered through public schools.

Legislators instead boosted funding for existing preschool programming, including early learning scholarships.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said the governor’s remarks Tuesday are an attempt to “hold hostage tax relief.” He added that if the governor wants more funding for early childhood education, “it’s his job to go out and earn the support for it.”

Daudt said the governor shouldn’t link tax cuts to more money for education, particularly in a year when the Legislature is not debating the state budget.

Dayton did not offer a specific amount he sought for preschool. He said that would become clear after the state’s budget office releases an economic forecast in the fall showing updated revenue figures.

He also rejected recent calls for an investigation into Planned Parenthood clinics in the state by Minnesota Republicans.

The legislators sent Dayton a letter Monday urging the governor to take action after the release of a video by anti-abortion activists showing a Planned Parenthood executive describing how some clinics provide tissue from aborted fetuses for research.

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, expressed disappointment after Dayton said he saw no basis for an investigation. Hann argued that the surreptitiously obtained video should be enough to launch a probe.

“How do we know if we even refuse to try to find out?” Hann said.

Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, last week said the video “falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs.

Stoesz said that Planned Parenthood clinics in Minnesota and the Dakotas do not engage in tissue donation, but called such research “critical” and “important to improving health care.”

She accused the group of heavily editing the video as part of a broader effort nationally to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood.


Ricardo Lopez • 651-925-5044