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We are now into the second week of a hectic 2016 Minnesota Legislative Session. With the session expected to last just about 10 weeks, there is lot of work to get done. In the House Chamber, the atmosphere is certainly unique as construction continues on the multiyear restoration of the State Capitol. Due to fire code, occupancy of the building is strictly limited, and other than legislators and a few staff members, the public and press is largely shut out. I invite you to keep up to date with legislative happenings by frequently checking out the content produced by House Public Information Services.
Minnesota Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” today highlighted serious concerns at the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley and Crosswinds Arts and Science School in Woodbury. As you may remember, administration of Crosswinds was conveyed from the East Metro Integration District (EMID) to the Perpich Center in 2014.
Taxpayers deserve accountability, and I will push for that this session. I invite you to read my press release on the topic.
Legislative Audit Commission
One of the ways in which state agencies can be given transparency is through evaluations by the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor. The office was created in 1973 and acts as an independent “watchdog” agency to promote accountability, provide oversight and enhance program effectiveness in state government. They conduct regular financial audits of state agencies as well as 6-8 “program evaluations” each year. These evaluations determine how well programs funded by the state are accomplishing their goals and if they are utilizing resources efficiently.
These topics are selected by the Legislative Audit Commission. Currently, members of the Legislature are being surveyed by the commission’s Topic Selection Subcommittee and will shortly thereafter deliberate on the programs to select. As noted in the above story, I am hoping my colleagues will select the Perpich Center for this purpose.
Governor’s Supplemental Budget
Today, Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled his supplemental budget recommendations to the Legislature in light of the new budget surplus amount announced last month of $900 million. Overall, I think the Governor takes a measured, responsible approach toward our budget to ensure our fiscal situation remains solid in the coming years (he leaves an additional $202 million for the budget reserve), while making wise, targeted investments in the areas that matter most to our families and communities. He increases investments for education, broadband infrastructure, mental health providers, and includes targeted tax relief to Minnesota families, including expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and the Working Family Tax Credit.You can see the proposal in its entirety here.