For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2015 legislative session is now complete, and this year we passed a comprehensive, bipartisan budget that works for the people and priorities of Eden Prairie. I am proud of the work we did, with both sides working across the aisle to craft a compromise that will fund all areas of Minnesota's state government over the next two years. We also reined in government spending, as our budget has the third lowest percent increase in general fund spending in over 50 years.
First, as the Chair of the House Education Finance Committee, I know that my education bill received quite a lot of attention. Governor Dayton's original insistence on universal pre-kindergarten sent us into a special session, but in the end, we agreed to a bill that contains a number of Republican-led reforms including streamlining the process for out-of-state teacher licensure, as well as an additional $525 million for schools and students statewide. In total, this additional funding will add 2 percent to the student formula for both 2016 and 2017, meaning more money will reach every classroom. Additionally, placing money directly into the formula will give school districts the flexibility to spend that money in a way that best suits their needs.
Minnesota's littlest learners also benefit from this year's education legislation. More than $48 million was put toward early learning scholarships and another $30.75 million for school readiness aid. Both are proven, targeted programs which will reach low income and at-risk kids, helping to close the achievement gap and giving parents the choice to find the right pre-k program for their child.
Of course, education wasn't the only priority for legislators this session. Providing a permanent fix to nursing home funding was another top priority for Republican legislators, and we negotiated our provision into the final Health and Human Services budget bill that will increase the reimbursement rate for care centers across the state. This $138 million investment will not only benefit the aging adults in care centers like the Colony and Castle Ridge in Eden Prairie, but it will also help raise the wages for hardworking caregivers in this field.
What's more, the Health and Human Services budget bill also gives additional authority to the Department of Human Services to investigate cases of waste and abuse, helping to save taxpayers money and remove unqualified people from state programs.
Furthermore, more than 400,000 college students in our state will see tuition freezes and reductions at MnSCU's two and four year colleges, as well as millions more for tuition relief at the University of Minnesota thanks to our bipartisan higher education budget legislation.
Finally, as part of the special session agreement, there was also a bonding bill passed which includes funding for a number of transportation improvement projects, Capitol restoration and flood mitigation.
Lastly, it is just as important to note what did not make our budget agreement this session—a gas tax.
The governor and Senate DFL insisted on a new wholesale gas tax increase this session in exchange for a long-term road and bridge package and a tax relief bill. You may recall that House Republicans had passed a $7 billion, ten-year Road and Bridge Act and $2 billion in tax relief earlier this year.
The House stood by Minnesotans who overwhelmingly opposed this new, regressive gas tax increase, which for Eden Prairie families would have meant hundreds more each year in taxes. More than $800 million was left on the bottom line for next year, as House legislators insisted we limit government growth and not spend all of our $2 billion surplus. There will be another chance to revisit transportation and tax relief next session, and I am hopeful we can continue our streak of bipartisan compromise on these two issues which are important to the people of Minnesota.
Please continue to send me your thoughts, ideas and suggestions. I can be reached at email@example.com or 651-296-7449. I look forward to hearing from you!
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