For more information contact: Andrew Wagner 651-296-2809
Yesterday the House voted overwhelmingly to pass what's known as the Deficiency Bill. The Deficiency Bill helps state agencies cover funding shortfalls ahead of the next fiscal year, which begins in July. The agencies request funding due to unforeseen expenses, not simply due to overspending.
The bill includes funding for the Minnesota Zoo, which faced a budget shortfall due to lower than projected attendance caused by an unusually cold and wet spring season, state-mandated pay increases for employees, and rising food costs for animals.
Additional funding includes money for the Department of Human Services for the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter which treats sex offenders, as well as funding for the Department of Health to offset expenses for Ebola preparations made during the Ebola crisis last fall.
I gave a short speech on the House floor highlighting the importance of the Deficiency Bill, which you can watch by clicking here or on the image below.
The Deficiency Bill also included an amendment to put salary decisions back in the hands of the legislature. There's been a great deal of controversy surrounding $800,000 in pay increases given out by the Governor to his commissioners.
In 2013, the DFL changed the law to allow the Governor to raise those salaries single-handedly, without input from the public. We have now voted to reverse that authority, putting the decision back in the hands of the legislature where the public can be included in the discussion. The bill also delayed the salary increases from taking effect until July.
This was a good bill that I was proud to support.
Town Hall Meeting
Sen. Greg Clausen, Rep. Tara Mack, and I will be hosting a town hall meeting on Saturday, March 14 from 10:30AM-11:30 AM at the Galaxie Library in Apple Valley. Constituents from all over District 57 are invited to hear an update on the legislative session so far, and share their thoughts and input.
You can find full details and RSVP to the event (not required) by clicking here.
Homeless Youth Act
I was proud to participate in a press conference yesterday to highlight support for a bill I'm authoring known as the Homeless Youth Act. This bill would help at-risk youth stay on track and out of homelessness. Young people most often find themselves homeless due to abuse at home, aging out of foster care, or their family is homeless. My bill would provide a small funding increase for a program that has a successful track record of helping youth who are homeless or at risk to become homeless. The bill also adjusts the definition of homeless youth from age 16-21 to 16-24, which would conform to the federal definition in an effort to streamline paperwork for providing services to those who need it most.
Providing support for these young people when they have nowhere else to turn helps them and in turn helps the community. Homelessness takes a toll on our communities, resulting in high costs for public programs, and the emotional toll it takes on those who struggle to make ends meet. This program helps at-risk youth put their lives on track and helps them become productive, tax-paying citizens who can support themselves in the long run.
There have been hearings on this bill in both the House and the Senate, and I will keep you updated on this bill as it moves through the process.
Thanks to the amazing teachers from District 196 for coming to visit the Capitol yesterday. I'm so grateful for all the amazing work you do with our students day in and day out.
It was also great to meet with constituents visiting the Capitol in support of the arts and Legacy Amendment funding.
My door is always open and I welcome your input and feedback. You can reach my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-4306. It's a privilege to represent our community, and your input helps me better represent you in Saint Paul.
State Representative, District 57B
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