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Minnesota Governor Unveils Scaled-Back Preschool Proposal

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled a preschool plan that was scaled back from earlier proposals—an example of how early-childhood program expansion is hard to pull off, even in states where money is available and state leaders are supportive. 

Minnesota currently has a $900 million surplus, but Dayton's spending plan includes only about $25 million for expanding preschool by about 3,700 slots, according to a supplemental budget report his office released Tuesday. That would be in addition to 5,600 children who are already receiving state-funded preschool "scholarships" that help their parents pay for early education. Other priorities include bolstering the state's reserves, tax cuts, and alleviating teacher shortages. 

Dayton had once proposed a universal preschool program, but the proposal faced opposition from both Democrats and Republicans, the Associated Press reports. State leaders say this smaller expansion is still progress, though incremental.

In an article this week, I wrote about other state and local early-education plans currently under consideration. At the end of the legislative season, we'll revisit the topic to see what programs were enacted, and which fell short of passage. 

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