House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, on Wednesday pushed back against assertions that members of his caucus are to blame for the pending veto by Gov. Mark Dayton of the education budget bill.
"It's not on Republicans," Daudt told reporters. "Remember it didn't also pass out of the [DFL] Senate."
Dayton and legislators are at an impasse over the education budget, specifically over the governor's top priority of providing universal access to prekindergarten.
The Legislature on Monday approved a $17.1-billion budget for education, up 8 percent from the previous two-year budget of $15.8 billion for public schools. It contained increases of 1.5 percent in 2016 on the basic school funding formula and 2 percent in 2017.
The GOP-led House voted 71-59; the DFL-led Senate voted 52-14. Senate leadership said they supported the governor's position on education, but said they were unable to convince House GOP leaders to agree to the higher spending.
Daudt said that his caucus had compromised significantly by offering roughly $300 million in additional spending above their original proposal. He said they also offered more money on the funding formula than the overall 2 percent increase Dayton and Senate DFLers had originally proposed.
With the prospect of a special session, which Dayton will call, Daudt said their priority will be to push for additional funding on the formula.
Dayton on Tuesday lambasted Republicans, ratcheting up the rhetoric by saying that GOP legislators "hate" public schools, which is why they oppose his universal preschool plan. Daudt and other Republicans have demanded an apology from the governor.
House DFLers, rallying behind Dayton, criticized Republicans for the result of the legislative session.
"They have forced a special session by refusing to compromise with Governor Dayton's priority to invest in a better education for Minnesota's youngest learners," House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a statement.