For more information contact: Bennett Smith 651-296-6422
Last week, legislators and staff worked around the clock to complete a special session that was supposed to last one day to allow Republicans to finish their work on omnibus budget bills. However, that special session dragged through the entire week as they could not reach final agreement. This process was frustrating and I think it was irresponsible for us to be forced to pass the majority of our state budget in the middle of the night, after it was negotiated behind closed doors with little or no public input.
I wanted to give you a few quick updates:
Town Hall Meetings
There are two post-session town hall meetings coming up this Monday, June 5 at Plymouth City Hall, and on Monday, June 26 at The Depot Coffee House in Hopkins. You can see details below and attached. These meetings are free and open to the public. It’s important for me to hear from you, and I encourage you to attend and ask questions and share your views.
Governor Dayton Signs Budget Bills
Governor Dayton signed the special session omnibus budget bills on Tuesday, while also expressing his disappointment and frustrations with the final products. Thankfully for the many thousands of workers who are organizing in communities throughout the state for better pay, earned sick leave, and paid family leave, the Governor vetoed the preemption legislation passed by Republicans. You can find letters with the Governor’s explanation for signing the omnibus budget bills by following the link here.
There are many items in the special session omnibus bills that are objectionable. In many important areas of the budget, from E-12 Education to Higher Education to Environment & Natural Resources to Jobs & Energy, they prioritize the short term over the long term success of Minnesota’s citizens and economy.
I’ve expressed my frustrations about this session, but there were also thankfully a few positive highlights that accompanied them.
First was the passage of a $990 million bonding bill, which provides long-term borrowing for infrastructure improvements. The first such bill in several years, it will fund critical infrastructure throughout the state. In St. Louis Park, it will fund improvements to Perspectives, Inc., which provides critical assistance to families in our community.
A second highlight is increased funding for programming and services for very young children. The increase in funds for childcare assistance, which has been a personal legislative mission for me, is critically important to working families. As we sort through the details of these bills (which we had little time to understand before we were forced to vote on them before adjournment at 3:00am on Friday morning), it seems that funding increased for early-learning scholarships and for school readiness programs, including pre-K, with smaller increases in areas like home visiting. We need to continue to build on this investment in future years.
An additional highlight was the passage of my first bill on the last night of session to support the ability of Minnesotans who are employed by police and fire civil service commissions to participate in political party activity and contribute to campaigns of either party as they see fit. These prohibitions are now lifted, and local police and fire commission employees can now participate in the political process just like every other Minnesotan.
I will continue to keep you posted if there are any changes in the status of negotiations (which are currently not occurring) between Governor Dayton and Republican legislative leaders.
Rep. Peggy Flanagan
309 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
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