For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Monday, May 18 marked the end of the 2015 regular legislative session with Senate Democrats and House Republicans working together to pass a comprehensive, bipartisan $41.5 billion budget—the midway point between the Governor’s $43 billion proposal and the House budget of just under $40 billion. This session, we invested in education and early learning opportunities, put a stop to a regressive gas tax increase and protected aging adults' quality of life. I am pleased with the work we did on behalf of the people of Minnesota.
As the Chair of the House Education Finance Committee, I am particularly proud of the $17.1 billion education budget we passed that placed $400 million more into education, 72 percent of which went directly onto the per pupil formula. Additionally, understanding the value of targeted pre-kindergarten initiatives, legislators voted to put $60 million more into school readiness aid and early learning scholarships. We also reformed teacher licensure, easing the process for quality out-of-state educators to get licensed in our state, and reduced mandated and optional testing of our students to increase classroom learning time. In all, our bipartisan budget increases general education funding for our school districts by 1.5 percent in 2016 and 2 percent in 2017 respectively, a boost of $205 per pupil. What's more, this investment is significantly higher than the E-12 budget proposals originally put forward from Governor Dayton and the Senate DFL.
I am disappointed that Governor Mark Dayton chose to veto our bipartisan education legislation which passed with overwhelming support in the legislature. His insistence on universal pre-k, a plan that didn't receive support in either body this session, is logistically problematic for our schools to implement and could add billions of dollars to base education funding in future budgets. Furthermore, his plan would essentially abandon the scholarship model and locally developed programs that are already working to prepare low income and at-risk students for future academic success. While the governor claims his plan is voluntary, it repeals school readiness dollars for any school that does not implement his specific structure, leaving the schools with his plan or an unfunded local program.
I am hoping that this issue will be resolved soon for the sake of Minnesota kids. He has requested we go into special session over his demand for universal pre-k.
While education is receiving the most attention right now, our bipartisan budget addressed many other important priorities for the people of Minnesota. For example, the House advanced a $138 million investment in nursing homes statewide that will increase reimbursement rates and help raise the wages for caregivers in this field. The Health and Human Services budget bill also included additional authority for the Department of Human Services to investigate cases of waste and abuse, helping to save taxpayers money and remove unqualified people from state programs.
Additionally, for more than 400,000 college students, there are tuition freezes and fee reductions for MnSCU's two and four year colleges, as well as millions more for tuition relief at the University of Minnesota.
Finally, it is just as important to note what did not make our budget agreement this session—a gas tax. The governor and Senate DFL insisted on a new wholesale gas tax increase this session in exchange for a long-term road and bridge package and a tax relief bill. You may recall that House Republicans had passed a $7 billion, ten-year Road and Bridge Act and $2 billion in tax relief. The House stood up for the people of our state who overwhelmingly opposed this new, regressive gas tax increase. For Eden Prairie families, it would have meant hundreds more each year in taxes. Money was left on the bottom line for next year, as we insisted we limit government growth and not spend all of the $2 billion surplus. There will be another opportunity to revisit transportation and tax relief next session.
I will keep you updated on further negotiations between the House, Senate and Governor Dayton as we enter into a special session.
Please continue to send me your thoughts, ideas and suggestions. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-7449. I look forward to hearing from you!
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