For more information contact: Bennett Smith 651-296-6422
We’re now half-way through the second week of the 2016 legislative session in St. Paul. This session will be only ten weeks in length with much to do. I'll do my best to keep you updated, but please feel free to reach out anytime with questions or thoughts.
The Capitol remains an active construction zone, but the House chamber was reopened for the ten weeks of the session. Unfortunately, only a few members of the public will be allowed in the building to accommodate safety requirements, but you can still follow floor proceedings online here and you can still access all legislator offices in the State Office Building and the Minnesota Senate Building.
State of the State
Last Wednesday, Governor Dayton delivered the annual State of the State address on the campus of the University of Minnesota. The Governor emphasized fiscal stability, the elimination of racial disparities, and his strong support for the early development of children. I thanked the Governor for his strong support for children and families, and his efforts to expand paid family leave in Minnesota, starting with state employees. Also, click here to read more on the Governor's priorities.
Surplus and Supplemental Budget
We learned recently that, due to national economic forces, our state budget surplus is projected to be significantly smaller than earlier believed, from $1.2 billion to $900 million. Governor Dayton emphasized the need to be cautious with our state's fiscal long-term health in his State of the State address and when he released his supplemental budget yesterday. You can read more about his supplemental budget proposal here. The supplemental budget focuses major investments on initiatives to expand broadband access throughout the state, increases child care assistance to low income families, expands paid family leave to thousands of Minnesotans, provides tax relief for 400,000 middle-class families, and invests $100 million to eliminate racial disparity issues. The Governor’s plan would leave about $200 million on the bottom line to hedge against the possibility of a future recession or economic downturn to protect the fiscal integrity of our state budget.
House DFL Policy Initiatives
This session I will be working with my colleagues on several policy priorities to get our state budget working for everyone. In the weeks before the session began, a series of policy initiatives were rolled out that I will be contributing to, including:
- The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, which I’m co-authoring, is a crucial step for improving the health and wellness of Minnesota children, families, and all of us;
- The DISCLOSE Act, which would allow voters to know who is spending money trying to influence elections, helping to get dark money out of politics;
- A plan to reduce the cost of prescription drugs by putting more power in the hands of Minnesota consumers;
- A series of bills dealing with student loan debt, for which Minnesota is fifth in the nation, with an average debt at graduation of $30,894.
I’ve appreciated the comments and messages from my community as my first session began last week, and I want you to know that I am working hard to ensure we create more opportunity for all Minnesotans, and I appreciate your input, questions, and concerns.
State Representative, District 46A
309 State Office Building
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