For more information contact: Gina Kunesh 651-296-5526
As we approach the session deadline of May 22, several budget bills remain unresolved. Governor Dayton has been actively engaged with Speaker Daudt and Majority Leader Gazelka, specifying parameters for his budget preferences and detailing items that are not acceptable. In a letter sent to the press on Tuesday, all correspondence between the governor’s staff and legislators was listed. House Democrats are working toward a compromise budget in the next two weeks, but will not stand for policies that move the state backward and hurt Minnesotans.
Despite a budget surplus, the Republican controlled legislature is choosing to underfund our schools. Educators, administrators and school districts- the experts in our classrooms- have testified that a modest 2% funding increase is needed just to stay afloat with costs of inflation and student growth, yet Republicans are choosing to underfund our schools with less. Education has made Minnesota a leader, but we won’t continue to lead by underfunding our schools at a time of budget surplus. Instead, providing all Minnesota children a quality education, including voluntary pre-k, should be a top priority.
Every Minnesotan deserves the opportunity to get a post-secondary education and compete in the global economy without being saddled with student debt. Instead of investing in Minnesotans, Republicans are proposing a higher education budget that’s nearly $200 million less than what Governor Dayton requested. Underfunding education will continue to lead to program cuts, staff layoffs, increased tuition and skyrocketing student debt. In fact, the University of Minnesota said if the GOP budget becomes law, students would see a tuition increase of up to 5% each of the next two years. Minnesota should be proud of leading the nation in a lot of things, but student debt shouldn’t be one of them. We currently have the 5th highest student debt in the country.
TRANSPORTATION & TRANSIT
Republicans, Democrats, and transportation leaders agree we need an additional $600 million per year just for basic maintenance of our roads and bridges, but the Republican transportation plan continues to underfund and neglect our transportation system. Even more troubling is Republican leaders are forcing transportation to compete against funding for schools, nursing homes, and support for our most vulnerable people by tapping into the General Fund. For Minnesota to succeed we need a transportation system that works in every corner of Minnesota and supports a 21st century economy. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders have expressed support and the need for a robust transportation bill that includes sustainable and ongoing transit funding.
The transit portion of the transportation bill cuts funding for bus service and light rail which will harm Minnesotans who rely on transit for school, work, and daily life – now and in the future. Their revised plan includes a 10% cut to bus service, halts Southwest Light Rail, and has no new funding for bus rapid transit. Arguably most concerning is the $44 million funding shortfall to Metro Mobility, which provides essential door-to-door service for Minnesotans who are elderly, have a disability or health condition.
Instead of prioritizing harmful cuts in these bills, the House Majority should be working with everyone to use our surplus wisely and lift up the economy of our entire state. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find solutions for our community and state.
I’m hopeful we can come to an agreement and adjourn on time. Please stay in touch; your input is important.
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