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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: Susie Merthan 651-296-2955

Posted: Apr 11 2013 5:19PM
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E-Update

2013 Session Update: Education and Bonding proposals including Fish Creek and Brown's Creek Trail projects


Dear neighbor,

We have had another busy week at the legislature and several big omnibus finance bills were released this week including proposals for education finance, higher education finance and bonding.


The House Omnibus Education Finance bill was released on Tuesday.  The bill seeks to reverse a decade of disinvestment in education by reinvesting in our classrooms, from preschool through college.  The education finance proposal makes historic investments in efforts to close the achievement gap, raise graduation rates and improve student career and college readiness.

Some key components of the bill include:

  • Funding optional all-day, every day kindergarten for all Minnesota kids
  • Investing $50 million in early learning scholarships
  • Increasing per pupil funding by $209

Investing in early learners is a proven way to make sure that our kids are academically successful in later years.  Many schools have all-day kindergarten but parents have to pay for it.  State funding of all-day kindergarten will free up more family income and help to make our schools stronger across the state.

There are also some new ideas in the bill to make sure that our students are ready for 21st century careers and higher education opportunities.  These reforms include strategic plans for student achievement, a new student assessment system and innovation grants.  We need to make sure that we’re able to get students on pathways to sustainable jobs in the global marketplace.

In addition to the education finance bill, the Higher Education Omnibus bill was also released this week.  This proposal includes funding that will directly benefit students by freezing tuition at both the University of Minnesota (U of M) and the Minnesota State Colleges and University system (MnSCU).   Tuition has nearly doubled at state colleges and universities in the past decade and this is a direct way of aiding students and families who are struggling with these tuition increases.  This is the largest investment in higher education in over 10 years.

The House bonding proposal includes several local measures, including funding for the gateway corridor, Brown’s Creek Trail and Fish Creek Trail.  Some of these projects are long overdue and it’s time to move them forward.

I am really pleased to see the Fish Creek project included.  This has been a collaborative effort for nearly twenty years, and now the goal of preserving 62 acres of wildlife and providing new connecting bike and hiking trails is within reach. 

The Brown’s Creek Trail will connect the Willard Munger State Trail to the Gateway Trail in Stillwater.  Once finished, trail users will have the opportunity to travel to and from St. Paul, Stillwater, and northern Washington County via the Gateway and Brown's Creek state trails. In addition, the trail will connect to local and regional park and trail systems.  The Brown's Creek trail corridor will travel through stretches of scenic woods, along a designated trout stream, past historic sites, and along the St. Croix River.

More information on these trail projects can be found at these links:  http://www.ci.maplewood.mn.us/index.aspx?NID=884.

http://gatewaybrownscreektrail.org/Default.aspx?pageId=1511480

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/mgmtplans/trails/browns_creek.html

Interest rates are historically low (2.06%) and now is a great time to bond to create jobs and invest in state infrastructure.  I am really excited to see these local projects move forward as part of the bonding proposal.

Finally, please contact me directly with any questions, comments, or concerns.  I can be reached by phone at (651) 296-7807 or by email at rep.joann.ward@house.mn.  If you haven’t already, you can take my legislative survey online here:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5GFHYSG.

 

Sincerely,

 

JoAnn Ward

State Representative

Maplewood, Woodbury, Oakdale and Landfall

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