ST. PAUL (AP) -- The on-and-off feud between Gov. Jesse Ventura and U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone has turned bitter again, with both officials berating the other over education funding.
Ventura summoned three reporters to his office Tuesday to respond to Wellstone's comments a day earlier that education would suffer under the proposed state budget. In turn, the governor repeatedly labeled Wellstone "a failure" for not persuading Congress to live up to a special-education funding promise.
"I'm tired of Senator Wellstone using every opportunity to get a photo-op when he's part of the failure in Washington," Ventura said. "If he's so committed, how come nothing's being done? He ought to take care of his own house before he worries about my house."
Wellstone refused an interview request, but issued a statement that reaffirmed his support for increased special education funding.
"The fight for investments in education and for children with disabilities has been my fight in the Senate for the past 10 years," the statement said. "Minnesotans know they can always count on me in that fight."
His spokesman, Jim Farrell, listed several unsuccessful Wellstone efforts to pump more money into the program. Farrell added that Wellstone would try to attach an amendment to an education bill Wednesday that would prevent any new testing requirements until special education is fully funded.
Wellstone, a Democrat, said he hopes the Independence Party governor joins him in trying to get the Republican-led Congress to boost special education funding.
The senator touched off the feud's latest round Monday. He used a visit to a St. Paul school to condemn Ventura's hold-the-line budget, which he said would be a "double whammy" when taken together with President Bush's federal budget.
Wellstone argues that both leaders are placing too high a priority on tax cuts at the expense of education. Ventura said his budget contains a 4.4 percent spending increase for primary and secondary education for the next two years.
Ventura said Wellstone's critique is misguided because he is hamstrung by federal special education requirements that haven't been funded to promised levels.
Congress approved the original special education requirements in 1975. By 1982, the federal government was supposed to pay 40 percent of the extra costs of instructing a special education student compared with that of a general education student.
But the federal government has come through with only about a quarter of that.
State officials say that Minnesota would receive $169 million more next year.
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