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State Representative Carlos Mariani

203 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-9714

For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875

Posted: Apr 17 2013 11:27AM
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E-Update

Legislative Update: Investing in Education, Creating Jobs and More


Dear neighbors,

If I had to choose one priority that our current legislative session will be remembered for, it would be our plan to make serious investments in our children’s education.

As chair of the Education Policy Committee, it’s been an honor to help shape a plan that prioritizes college and career readiness so students from all backgrounds can secure good jobs in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Here’s some background information on the House K-12 education bill I’ve been working on as well as a few other important priorities.

CREATING THE WORLD’S BEST WORKFORCE:

The House DFL education plan sets ambitious goals into law; closing the achievement gap, reaching a 100 percent high school graduation rate, 100 percent literacy by third grade, and 100 percent career and college readiness by graduation.

We plan to meet those goals by full funding of all-day kindergarten, investing in early learning childhood scholarships, and increasing the basic funding formula for schools by $315 million, or $209 per pupil, over the next biennium.

We know that putting more money into the system alone won’t solve the challenges facing our students, so our plan also includes reforms to student assessment and diagnostics, teacher licensure, and integration revenue.

For example, our plan includes a bill authored by my colleague Rep. Kathy Brynaert that replaces the GRAD exam with career and college readiness entrance exams. Students would take these new tests beginning in middle school to provide parents and kids with important diagnostics that empowers them with early planning for their career goals and success in learning. This is a smarter and fairer way to use tests.

Evidence suggests that our current Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam (MTLE) has kept talented teachers out of our classrooms. Teachers and stakeholders have stated time and again that the MTLE’s basic skills test is extremely problematic and results in high failure rates, large expenditures on test taking, and eventual joblessness due to continual failure.

The House DFL plan recognizes this problem and renews the availability of temporary teaching licenses for those who cannot pass the basic skills test. It also establishes a task force to recommend a high quality alternative way to assess a teacher candidate’s skills.

Lastly, our plan includes a major bill I shepherded that reinstates integration revenue and does so in a way that expects stronger accountability relative to academic achievement. Under this provision, the Achievement and Integration for MN (AIM) revenue program requires participant districts to use research-based methods and longitudinal data to increase integration and close the achievement gap. New accountability measures and best practices will ensure improved outcomes.

HOUSE DFL BONDING BILL INVESTS IN ST. PAUL:

I’m pleased to report that the recently released House DFL bonding bill includes funding for two projects I authored that create good jobs and put the city of St. Paul on a path to economic growth for years to come.

Under my bill (HF686), the St. Paul Children’s Museum is eligible for a state grant to pay for renovations as well as an expansion. This resource is a true gem of our city. A larger museum will reinvigorate downtown St. Paul, increase revenue from more people visiting this major attraction, and provide greater learning opportunities for young people.

HF1035 funds needed renovations and expansions to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. Not only does this project put people back to work, it will maintain a vibrant cultural arts scene that stimulates lots of important economic activity in St. Paul.

CREATING GOOD JOBS AND EXPANDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING:

This week, House DFLers passed major legislation to create good jobs and make sure every Minnesotan has a place to call home.

The Jobs, Commerce and Housing omnibus bill (HF729) is an important step forward towards growing the middle class and expanding economic security for individuals and families.

One component of the plan to put people back to work provides $20 million for the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF). Those resources provide financial incentives, such as low-interest loans, to out-of-state businesses thinking of setting up shop in Minnesota as well as in-state businesses thinking of expanding. According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), MIF leverages over $33 in private investment for every $1 awarded.

Another component of this plan cuts unemployment insurance taxes paid by employers so they have more money in their pockets to retain and hire additional employees. The tax rate reduction saves businesses almost $350 million in the next couple years, with the average employer saving $150 per employee.

The bill also includes a $22 million funding increase for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA), which is responsible for preserving federally-subsidized rental housing, promoting successful homeownership, helping communities recover from the foreclosure crisis, and preventing homelessness. It marks the first funding increase for housing in over a decade.

EXPANDING ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION:

Another priority I’m working on is the Minnesota DREAM Act.

As the chief author of this bill in the House (HF 875), I am committed to doing everything in my power to pass this legislation so all Minnesotans, regardless of personal circumstances, have the opportunity to obtain a post-secondary education.

Under this proposal, certain undocumented youth will be eligible for state financial aid and in-state tuition rates. Eligible students must meet the following criteria:

  • Have attended and graduated from a Minnesota high school for three years.
  • File an affidavit with the respective college/university saying they will apply to change their immigration status as soon as they are able.

This legislation will make higher education a reality for thousands of students who are needed if Minnesota is to stay economically competitive. It is supported by a wide range of stakeholders, including the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Education MN, MnSCU, private colleges, the University of Minnesota, ISAIAH faith communities, and labor unions.

Already, 12 other states, including Texas, have enacted laws and policies that provide access to post-secondary to all immigrant students, regardless of their immigration status. Passing this legislation is not only a good investment in our economic future, it is simply the right thing to do.

GIVING ALL WORKERS THE DIGNITY AND RESPECT THEY DESERVE:

Earlier this year, I introduced legislation to address ongoing reports of low wages, overwhelming workloads, and wage theft from retail building cleaners who are members of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL).

Workers who are contracted to clean retail stores deserve respect, dignity, and fair wages for a hard day’s work. I’m proud to stand with members of CTUL to help level the playing field for Minnesota workers.

Unfortunately, my bill did not advance out of committee, but I will continue advocating for these workers and do everything in my power to pass this important legislation.

STAY IN TOUCH:

As the legislative session continues, please contact me with questions or comments about our work at the capitol.

You can reach me by email at rep.carlos.mariani@house.mn, by phone at (651) 296-9714, or by postal mail at 381 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.
 

-Carlos

Phone: (651) 296-9714
Email: rep.carlos.mariani@house.mn
381 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155

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