For more information contact: Andrew Wagner 651-296-2809
Today we learned that Minnesota has a projected $1.869 billion surplus for the next two years. This is great news for our state, and a sign that Minnesotans are feeling better about their own financial situation. The report indicates that part of the reason for our recovery is the drop in gas prices earlier this winter. Families with more money in their pockets thanks to lower gas prices were able to spend a little more on Christmas presents, a night out at the movies, or perhaps a new bike for their child.
Minnesotans deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money, especially in light of the fact that we have such a large surplus. In the coming weeks, we will begin to piece together our budget proposals, and explore ways to return surplus dollars back to taxpayers, and focus on priorities like roads and bridges, caring for our seniors, and improving education for Minnesota students.
I will be sure to keep you updated on the budget situation as it continues over the coming weeks.
PSEO "Gag Rule" Repeal
This week in the Education Innovation Policy Committee, I presented my bipartisan legislation to lift the so-called "gag rule" that prevents post secondary institutions from informing students about the financial benefits of post secondary enrollment options (PSEO) if they are in a school district with fewer than 700 students in grades 10, 11, and 12.
Programs such as PSEO help students gain college credit while in high school, helping them save potentially thousands of dollars in tuition costs. It doesn't make sense to limit student and parent access to important information about the benefit of these programs. We should be giving all students every opportunity to succeed and work ahead on their college credits while in high school.
The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in a future Education Policy Omnibus bill.
Deficiency Bill Signed by Governor
On Thursday, the House and Senate passed the final version of the Deficiency Bill, which provides funding to state agencies including the Minnesota Zoo who are facing budget shortfalls due to unforeseen expenses. The bill also restores legislative oversight over executive salaries, putting the public back in the discussion when future pay increases are debated.
I'm glad to see the strong bipartisan support for this bill that helps prevent exhibit closings and other drastic cuts at the Zoo, and saves taxpayers money by freezing commissioner salaries for four months at the pay level they were at prior to the massive increases Governor Dayton gave them. The Governor agreed to this compromise and signed the bill into law on Thursday.
Last week the non-partisan Legislative Auditor released a report detailing the troubled launch of MNsure back in 2013. The audit (which you can read by clicking here) concluded that in its first year, MNsure's failures outweighed its achievements. It also raised a number of concerning questions about MNsure's current structure, and suggests that significant changes be made to how MNsure operates.
There are a number of proposals moving through the legislature this year that would alter MNsure and increase accountability and transparency. I hope that legislators are able to put aside their partisan feelings about MNsure and realize that it's in need of major changes and work on a bipartisan basis to make improvements so that MNsure is able to deliver on some of the promises made by those who brought it to Minnesota.
The Apple Valley Wrestling team won the Class AAA State Championship last night, appearing for the tenth consecutive year in the championship match. Congratulations to the wrestlers, coaches, and parents on yet another successful season!
Legacy Committee visits the Minnesota Zoo
On Monday, the Legacy Committee visited the Minnesota Zoo for a behind-the-scenes look at the Zoo's operations and to see in person how Legacy dollars from the Legacy Amendment are put to use. It was great to welcome legislators to our community to see the great work being done at the Zoo!
Minnesota Agriculture Education Legislative Breakfast
On Thursday I had the chance to attend the Minnesota Agriculture Education Breakfast with some of my colleagues, and several members of Minnesota Future Farmers of America (FFA). Agriculture education is crucial for developing the next generation of farmers and agriculture workers in our state.
Thanks to Emily & Annika (not pictured) from District 196 School of Environmental Studies for visiting. They were at the Capitol as part of a class project.
On Wednesday, I visited with several constituents from the Minnesota Association of College Admission Counseling. Thanks for all you do for Minnesota college students!
Please email me your questions, comments, or concerns about what's going on in Saint Paul. Your emails and calls help guide my work in Saint Paul. Reach me at any time at email@example.com or by phone at 651-296-4306. You can also stay updated by liking my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/repannawills or on Twitter @AnnaCWills.
Have a great weekend,
State Representative, District 57B
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