Education leaders are either mired in a policy stalemate or making ample progress on resolving the K-12 budget -- depending on who you ask.
Republican lawmakers emerged from a K-12 meeting in the governor's office Thursday upbeat about a "productive" discussion on the largest slice of the state's budget. Democrats retorted that few policy differences were bridged.
While both the governor and Republicans propose spending similar amounts on K-12 education, Dayton objects to a number of the policy provisions in the GOP budget. The bill includes a host of controversial changes, such as vouchers for low-income students and collective bargaining limitations.
"I think it’s safe to say that there’s an agreement on what there is disagreement on," said Rep. Pat Garofalo, chair of the House Education Finance Committee. "That’s a positive step because once you know what you disagree on then you also know what you also agree on.”
Koch said the additional funding they have offered for K-12 "comes with an expectation, an understanding that these reforms are what's important to us and we're not just going to fund at a number, just status quo. That is unacceptable."
Rep. Mindy Greiling, the DFL lead on the Education Finance committee, said the meeting did not move things forward. “It seems to me we’re at the same place we were when session ended as far as the policy," Greiling said.
She added: "Rep. Garofalo said at the very beginning that if we don’t have agreement on policy there will be no bill. And we had no agreement on policy.”
Garofalo said they had made compromises in certain areas, but he did not “feel comfortable discussing them.”
The meeting also included the governor, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, House Speaker Kurt Zellers, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and Sen. Charles Wiger.
No global budget talks are scheduled for Thursday, but that is subject to change.