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Posted: Apr 2 2015 10:33AM
Legislative Update - April 2, 2015
House Budget Targets – Education
Currently, there is a lot of debate about what to do with the state’s projected $1.9 billion budget surplus. The ‘surplus’ reflects how much money Minnesota is expected to have in the state budget if the economy continues to grow at the same rate. If the economy continues to grow as expected, state revenues will grow accordingly. Much of the surplus will be absorbed by inflationary costs, and one third of the surplus will to go to the state’s budget reserves to prevent future deficits per the legislation we passed in 2014.
I have heard from many residents in our community about the need for investments in education. We made huge strides in education over the last two years by paying back the money borrowed from our schools, providing all-day kindergarten and freezing tuition at our state colleges and universities. But not all was solved. There is so much more work to do to give our students the best education possible, including reducing class sizes, expanding early childhood education, increasing technical and career education in our high schools and working to reduce student debt.
The current House Majority budget proposal includes less than a 1% increase in education funding for our kids. At a time when we have a projected budget surplus, it is crucial that we work to address the needs of our classrooms and ensure our students have the best education possible. While I find this proposal disappointing, I hope that the House, Senate and Governor can work together to ensure that we are prioritizing our kids in this biennium’s budget.
House policy committees have now finished their work, and budget committees have received spending targets, meaning how much money they can use on new initiatives or need to cut. Over the next few weeks these committees will complete their individual proposals in compliance with the budget framework set by the House majority.
During this time, it is crucial that you share your views about your priorities. I hope to hear from you about what is important to you as we work to balance the state budget.
Invasive Species of the Week
The invasive species of the week is leafy spurge. Leafy spurge is an herbaceous perennial that grows up to four feet tall. The leaves and flowers of leafy spurge are distinctive. The leaves are linear, simple and blue-green in color. The small, greenish-yellow flowers bloom in May-June in clusters at the ends of the stems and do not have petals. Instead, the plant develops yellowish bracts just below the flowers that give the appearance of petals. After flowering, leafy spurge produces seed that can be expelled up to 20 feet away from the plant. Each plant can produce large clumps of shoots from extensive underground stems and roots allowing the weed to overtake other vegetation quickly. When the shoot is broken, it exudes a milky sap that can cause skin irritation. Leafy spurge is incredibly difficult to eradicate, and poses a serious threat to Minnesotan agriculture. The sap is also toxic to cattle and horses. Outbreaks of leafy spurge should be reported to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The legislature is currently on a short break to observe Passover and Easter. I wish you and your family well as we welcome the spring weather!
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