After meeting for what was thought to be the final time Friday afternoon, members of the conference committee on the early childhood finance bill learned Saturday their work is not yet finished.
However, Republicans quickly began objecting to the process the committee had followed, saying the final agreement had been arrived at without the opportunity for full public input, or for the two Republican conferees to fully participate.
The House adjourned just before midnight without taking action and debate resumed Saturday morning, again becoming heated at times, until a compromise was apparently reached, and the House overwhelmingly voted to send the report back to the conference committee, which will likely not meet again before Monday.
Sponsored by Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton), the early childhood finance bill would appropriate $300 million in new spending during the upcoming biennium with the bulk of that funding devoted to Early Learning Scholarships.
The conference committee had to reconcile provisions in one House bill (HF2292) with two Senate files — SF1311 and portions of the Senate’s education finance bill.
Pinto said Friday that the committee’s work had been complicated by the fact that some of the provisions in its bill are linked to other bills, such as the K-12 education finance bill that is still being finalized.