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In This Edition:
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Here is an update with the latest news from the Capitol and around the community.
Back to School
Our beautiful Minnesota summer is over, and thousands of Eden Prairie kids are back in school. I want to offer my best wishes for a wonderful new school year to all of the students and talented and caring educators in our community!
Earlier this year, we passed a comprehensive education budget that placed more money in every classroom, implemented a number of meaningful reforms including teacher licensure changes and the repeal of the state’s “Last In, First Out,” layoff policy, and worked to improve student learning so every child has the opportunity for academic success. It’s an honor to work for our students and schools!
Additionally, for all the parents who dropped a chunk of change on back-to-school shopping, I wanted to remind you about the Minnesota Education subtraction and tax credit which can help save you money on school supplies, tutoring, music lessons and other education essentials for your K12 student. You can learn more on the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s website here.
Preliminary Individual Market Rates
A few weeks ago, we received some great news from the Minnesota Department of Commerce indicating that a number of Republican-led health care reforms are having a meaningful impact in our state. We worked diligently this session to address affordability, accessibility and consumer protection for those who purchase their own insurance. Now, preliminary rates for the individual market show that these reforms including the Minnesota Premium Security Plan could result in premium decreases for tens of thousands of Minnesotans, ending a trend of double-digit average increases since the implementation of MNsure and the Affordable Care Act in 2014. That’s a significant improvement, especially considering rates went up an average of nearly 60 percent in 2017.
The Minnesota Premium Security Plan must have a waiver approved by the federal government, and I hope they will act soon so Eden Prairie families and small business owners can choose from more affordable health plans next year. In contrast, if the federal government does not approve the plan, rates could rise by an estimated 25 percent or more for 2018.
Final rates will be released later this fall, and I will share more information then.
MCA Test Scores
On a less positive note this month, the state’s achievement gap continues to remain a serious problem for students and the future of our state, with MCA test scores showing no improvements in math or reading yet again. It is frustrating to say the least, as we want all children to have an opportunity to succeed. A stagnant achievement gap means we must continue to advocate for meaningful and innovative reforms, as the policies put forth over the past seven years by the Department of Education aren’t showing any measurable improvement in student outcomes.
Programs like universal pre-kindergarten would dramatically boost taxpayer funding of our education system without focusing on the kids who need it most. Research shows those funds when used as a tool for narrowing or closing the achievement gap best lead to results when placed in targeted, proven early learning initiatives that help families and children most in need.
Another concern is that the elimination of graduation assessment tests several years ago may have lead to artificially inflated graduation rates. When more students are graduating from high school but test scores measuring proficiency in core subject areas like math, reading and science are stagnant, that is a sign of trouble in our education system. Many students who move onto college are forced to take remedial classes that often do not count for credit toward their degree as they are unprepared in essential areas including English proficiency and math. Lack of preparation in K12 is costing students down the road.
This year, I advocated for a number of policies that will move the needle when it comes to the achievement gap including targeted early learning programs and the creation of a new extended time program for struggling students.
We are blessed with strong schools and great teachers across the state, but when our achievement gap remains, students are the ones who suffer. We must eliminate this shameful situation, and I am hopeful public servants on a bipartisan basis will take this as a wakeup call that the status quo will not reduce our state’s troubling achievement gap. We must embrace new ideas, including parent choice for their children’s education, so that every child has the opportunity to succeed and Minnesota will continue to benefit from a well-educated workforce.
Around the Community
Ever wondered what keeps legislators busy when we are not meeting every day in St. Paul? While the Legislature may be out of session, there are plenty of great events and meetings happening in Eden Prairie and across the state! I also spend a good deal of time reading and researching topics to prepare for the upcoming 2018 session.
Speaking at the Women 2 Women event in Minneapolis recently with Rep. Roz Petersen
At the Eden Prairie Lions’ Corn Feed!
It was great to attend the 10th annual 5K Raksha Walk/Run in Eden Prairie in August to help bring attention to the problem of distracted driving
Visiting the movie set of “Special Ed,” a short film that was shooting scenes in Eden Prairie.
With EP residents Joe and Karen Stich at the Eden Prairie Brewfest last Saturday.
It was a great turnout at the Eden Prairie Brewfest fundraiser for the Eden Prairie Community Foundation with over 600 in attendance.
The local band, Wondercure, delighting the crowd at Brewfest
While the Legislature is out of session, as always I hope you will continue to contact me with your questions, comments and suggestions. If you would like to meet on a legislative matter, or have me tour your local business or organization, please contact my office –I love learning more about all of the great things going on in Eden Prairie! Thanks for taking the time to read this update, and I hope to see you at events around our beautiful community in the coming weeks.
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