Nine Minnesota State University, Mankato students walked the 88 miles from Mankato to the State Capitol in St. Paul to highlight the need for state funding for higher education. The students started their trek on Monday. They avoided Tuesday night's nasty weather, were stopped by police in Lakeville (who were following up on a report of suspicious activity) and saw "some random guy" walking out of the woods.
"From our point of view it's important to invest in higher education because we are the future," said Moriah Miles, a junior studying Pre-law and International Relations. "We're the workforce of tomorrow. We're going to make this economy."
Gov. Dayton and several DFL lawmakers were on hand to greet the students after they climbed the Capitol steps.
"I will do everything I can to protect the funding for Minnesota State Mankato and other higher education instttutions," Dayton told the students.
Rep. Bud Nornes, R, Fergus Falls, also welcomed the students.
"We're doing as much as we can to ensure that we don't do any harm to students," Nornes said.
Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL,Mankato, and Rep. Kathy Brynaert, DFL, Mankato, also welcomed the students.
It's still unknown what the fate of higher education funding or most other budget matters will be.
Dayton is at odds with GOP lawmakers over the best way to craft a two year budget. Dayton is proposing an income tax increase on Minnesota's top earners to balance the state's budget. Republicans say they can erase the $5 billion projected budget deficit through spending cuts.
Dayton and GOP lawmakers are no closer to reaching a budget agreement. Republicans appear to be ramping up their work on the joint House/Senate conference committees. I'll post more once GOP legislative leaders release the targets for each budget area.