For more information contact: Tyler Blackmon 651-296-8826
After a flurry of policy activity at the beginning of session, we are now digging into the details of the next two-year budget.
Here's what you need to know this week:
NEW BUDGET FORECAST
Today the budget process began in earnest when we received the updated budget forecast from Minnesota Management & Budget. Thanks to Gov. Dayton's tireless efforts to turn this state around over the last six years, we now have a $1.65 billion budget surplus. That's real progress.
But now comes the hard part: what to do with it.
Instead of giving out large tax breaks to the most well off, I hope we make smart investments in working families that will grow our economy and make Minnesota an even better place to call home.
That means targeted investments in things like education and water quality. It means driving down the cost of college degrees and health insurance premiums. And it means lifting up your wages. We can do all of that if we are thoughtful about how we craft a budget for the next two years.
As we move through this process, I'll do my best to keep you updated.
If the legislature does not act soon, Minnesotans will no longer be able to use their driver's licenses to board domestic flights starting in 2018.
Right now there are two different versions of a fix working their way through the legislature. The first is a "clean" bill that sets up a two-tiered license system: one that is REAL ID compliant and will allow you to board flights, and another that is not compliant but will still allow you to drive.
A different version of the bill takes the same two-tiered approach as the clean bill, but it adds on an extra provision meant to attack immigrants by setting in stone a policy that would prohibit some immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses.
That last minute add-on is not necessary to pass REAL ID and actually threatens to make our roads less safe because immigrants will no longer have the training they need to drive on Minnesota roads properly. That's why the Minnesota Senate and even many Republican governors across the country oppose that extra provision.
I much prefer the clean bill. I look forward to final language that places us in federal compliance while still balancing the needs of our immigrant community.
RARE DISEASE DAY
A constituent of mine brought to my attention that today is Rare Disease Day, a day we honor every year on the last day of February to raise awareness of rare diseases. His child has the rare genetic condition known as Cockayne syndrome, and I thought I would use this space to highlight the good work advocates have been doing on this important issue.
Organizers have chosen "Research" as the theme for this year's Rare Disease Day. To find out more information and find out how you can be involved, you can visit their website.
You might have noticed I've started posting far more frequently on Facebook and Twitter. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to get updates about what's going on at the State Capitol.
Rep. Peter Fischer