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State Representative JoAnn Ward

231 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-7807

For more information contact: Gina Vega 651-296-5526

Posted: 2017-03-23
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Legislative Update

Legislative Update- March 23, 2017


Dear Neighbors,

Legislative action has ramped up again this week as we near our last committee deadline approaching on March 31. Here is an update from the Capitol:

House Budget Targets Released

The House Majority announced their budget targets this week; the final piece needed for committees to craft the budget for the next two years. Any budget decisions should be thoroughly vetted, include public input, and prepare our state for uncertainty at the federal level.

On Tuesday, the House Majority released their transportation funding proposal.  Their plan would shift $450 million from the General Fund into a new account for road and bridge infrastructure projects, proposes $1 billion in Trunk Highway borrowing over four years and would enact a $75 annual ‘surcharge’ on electric vehicles.  This is a significant amount of shifting and borrowing; I am primarily concerned about what this means long-term for us; if we deplete the General Fund, areas such as education and health care will take a hit.  The total goal of the transportation plan will spend two billion over the next two years, and six billion over ten years.  This amount has been identified as a base to simply maintain our current infrastructure, with no funding for improvements or expansion.    

We’re still waiting for details in most other budget areas, and I’ll keep advocating for common sense and responsible proposals and investments.

OLA Report

Earlier this month, the Legislative Audit Commission analyzed an audit of standardized testing in Minnesota schools. Several in our community and across the state have expressed concerns about schools having to teach to a test, and not to individual student needs.

One component of the audit found that in general, more teachers and administrators say locally adopted standardized tests are more useful for students and schools than the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs). According to the audit, only 7% of teachers and 16% of principals find the MCAs ‘very useful’ in measuring individual students’ progress over time. These statistics come from a statewide survey that was taken by teachers and principals in 2016.

Members of the Education Innovation Policy Committee reviewed the report last week.  I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to find solutions that best meet our students’ needs in the classroom.

Town Hall Thank You

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who attended the community listening session last Saturday.  Senator Kent and I were so pleased with the turn out and helpful feedback from attendees.  If you couldn’t make it, and would like to attend a future session, there will be two more opportunities in April.  Please visit my legislative page for the details.
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Constituents Visit

Our days are full with constituent group visits and I’ve enjoyed the opportunities to visit with our community members and advocates.  Last week, I met with a group of psychologists for Mental Health Awareness Day at the Capitol.  It was great to meet with experts on this issue.  The bill they are supporting would clarify licensing requirements to ensure the most qualified psychologists are in the field. I look forward to working with them in the future.

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Please always feel free to keep in touch with your ideas, suggestions and input; I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

JoAnn Ward 

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