Five Republicans and five Democrats met again at the statehouse Tuesday without resolving an ongoing conflict over how much state money K-12 schools should get next year. While districts around the state await word, the House and Senate remain 100 million dollars apart. Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen couldn’t say what the resolution will be.
”We didn't have it today obviously,” Paulsen says. “Educators are looking for us to get this resolved and my hope is that we can get that done.”
Republicans want a one-point-two-five percent increase for schools, while Democrats are calling for a four percent hike. The conference committee voted on the Republican proposal and the motion failed on a five to five vote.
Two conferees, Senate Democrat Herman Quirmbach and Le Mars Republican Chuck Soderberg disagreed over who called Tuesday’s meeting.
“I'd be happy to engage in any discussion,” Quirmbach says. “It’s your side that requested the meeting so I'd be most interested in hearing what you had to say.”
“I think it was a joint decision to have a meeting,” Soderberg says. “Obviously you need both sides to organize a meeting.”
If the legislature fails to pass a school funding bill, schools will get no increase in state funding per pupil next year. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal says he doesn’t know if the budget discord will last all the way to the end of the fiscal year in June, as it did in 2011.