Minnesota House of Representatives

Menu

State Representative Jenifer Loon

449 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-7449

For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522

Posted: Feb 13 2015 2:12PM
Share on: 



LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Legislative Update from Rep. Jenifer Loon


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I would like to thank everyone who came to my Town Hall on January 31st. It was wonderful to hear from you and get your input about what is happening at our state capitol.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me this session if I can be of assistance to you on a matter of state government, or if you have concerns or ideas you would like to share. I am here to serve you!

HIGHLIGHTS IN THIS UPDATE:

  • Governor Approves Pay Raises for Commissioners
  • House File 2 Receives Hearing in Education Innovation

Governor Approves Pay Raises for Commissioners

State legislators were informed recently that in early January, Governor Dayton unilaterally decided to raise the salaries of his commissioners and political appointees, most of whom were already making six-figure salaries. These salary increases were authorized because of legislation passed by the DFL-led legislature last biennium and signed into law by the governor. The House has invited Governor Dayton to testify before the State Government Finance Committee to justify these pay raises and offer the public a chance for input.

The excessive pay hikes, which were between 19 and 58 percent, moved top commissioner salaries up to almost $155,000 a year. Most people aren’t seeing their salaries go up by tens of thousands of dollars, so why should Governor Dayton’s political appointees?

Several state government agencies have come forward with deficiency funding requests this session, claiming they will not have enough money to make it to the end of the fiscal year on June 30th. While some requests like the one for St. Peter State Hospital, which houses mentally ill and dangerous offenders, to comply with court requirements in the wake of recent lawsuits may be worthy of funding, others seem less urgent.

State spending jumped 11.4 percent between FY2012-13 and FY2014-15, and these agencies received dramatic increases in taxpayer dollars for the budget biennium. Adding to the predicament over deficiency spending is the reality that the governor just gave his commissioners significant raises. In the Ways and Means Committee on Monday, we amended the governor’s deficiency request, lowering it to account for the commissioner raises. It’s time for agencies to tighten their belts and spend more efficiently to make it until June of next year, and one way to do that is to suspend commissioner pay raises.

Based on public outcry and leaders in both parties criticizing Governor Dayton’s unilateral decision to increase commissioner pay, it’s clear that now is not the time to dramatically raise the salaries of some of the highest paid public servants in Minnesota.

House File 2 Receives Hearing in Education Innovation

This week, the House Education Innovation Committee held hearings for my bill, House File 2. This legislation is about ensuring every Minnesota child receives a world-class education through commonsense, meaningful reform and by improving student access to effective teachers.

The largest reform within the legislation offers school districts more flexibility in making staff retention decisions. Currently, state law dictates that layoff decisions must be based solely on seniority unless local unions allow other factors to be considered.

HF 2 would reform that process, allowing school districts to also consider teacher evaluations. Making this change ensures our schools keep the most effective teachers in the classroom which research has shown to be critically important to student learning.

I look forward to having discussions with legislators, policymakers and the public as this legislation continues to make its way through the committee process. I will keep you updated on the progression of HF 2 this session.

 

Please continue to send me your thoughts, ideas and suggestions. I can be reached at rep.jenifer.loon@house.mn or 651-296-7449. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,


Jenifer Loon

Minnesota House of Representatives  ·   100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Saint Paul, MN   55155   ·   Webmaster@house.mn