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Dayton: Prepare for a special session

Gov. Dayton said during a news conference that lawmakers should get ready for a special session if they send him an education bill that he plans to veto. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is telling Minnesota lawmakers to prepare for a special session, and he suggested they can meet in a tent on the Capitol lawn if construction in the Capitol building prohibits them from meeting there.

Dayton repeated his intention Sunday to veto an education finance bill that is poised for passage in the House and Senate. He wants more money in the bill and a specific earmark for his universal preschool initiative.

During a news conference, Dayton blamed Republicans for the impasse.

"It’s entirely their fault," Dayton said. "If they want to take the last $1 billion and leave it on the bottom line and walk away and ignore my number one priority, that’s not the way the system works.”

Before the news conference, Dayton met privately with House and Senate leaders to discuss the issue. Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt said he asked Dayton to sign the education bill as is.

Daudt, R-Crown, said there's no support in the Legislature for Dayton's proposal. Daudt wants more money for the per pupil formula instead.

"It's his responsibility to build the groundswell of support for his issues in the Legislature," Daudt said. "And the fact that that particular issue didn't make it into the conference committee, it didn't pass the House or Senate, makes it a difficult position."

Dayton argues that making pre-kindergarten a universal and free service is key to closing the achievement gap. His proposal has received mixed reviews. Daycare providers and some leading early childhood education advocates say the money is better spent expanding pre-kindergarten scholarships for the neediest kids.

The Legislature has until Monday night at midnight to wrap-up its regular session, and Dayton has three days after lawmakers leave to veto the bill.

State  commissioners said the lack of an education fundng law would mean layoffs.

Dayton stopped short of  saying he would veto other bills.

But he expressed concerns about a provision he wanted to require farmers to expand buffers between farm land and waterways. Daudt said legislators were still tweaking the bill's language, but as of Saturday night it was not what Dayton wanted.

Dayton also said he has concerns about the energy bill. And as for a public safety bill that includes a provision that would allow people to buy gun silencers in Minnesota, Dayton said he's still looking at the legislation.

Dayton has said in the the past he would veto gun legislation if it included the silencer language.

Tim Pugmire contributed to this report.

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