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Posted: May 29 2013 1:23PM
2013 Session Update: Legislative Wrap-Up
The legislature finished the session on time with a responsible and balanced budget that makes investments in education and job creation and enacts reforms to move our state forward. I was proud to be a part of the bipartisan work at the Capitol this year and to advocate on behalf of our community and am thankful to the many residents who kept in touch this session.
After a decade of budget deficits, gimmicks and all-cuts budgets that have left working families struggling, we delivered an honest solution to fund Minnesota’s priorities and close the $627 million budget deficit. Our budget puts an end to one-time money and accounting shifts to put our state on stable financial footing into the future and to make much-needed investments in education and job creation.
Minnesota schools have always led the nation, and we are taking big steps to ensure that we continue to lead. As you may remember, the previous legislature borrowed $2.4 billion from our schools. We will fully pay back our schools by 2014 through an accelerated repayment plan. In addition to this repayment, our budget makes historic investments in education from early childhood through college, and includes new reforms to ensure that our students are being prepared for 21st century careers and higher education opportunities.
We know that strong schools make for a strong economy. Our education budget fully funds optional all-day kindergarten, which will free up money for families with small children, and also provides early learning scholarships to make sure that our kids are getting an equal start. Through a new assessment system, our students will be challenged and driven based on their goals and skills towards career and college readiness. To make college more affordable and reduce student debt, we will be freezing tuition at the U of M and MnSCU for two years for undergraduates.
In addition to this freeze, we are implementing new reforms to make sure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely at our higher education institutions. In light of tuition that has nearly doubled in the last ten years and public scrutiny for high administrative costs, we held a series of oversight hearings this session to focus on how to address tuition, debt and fees for students. The end result is increased oversight of state funding to MnSCU and the U of M that will keep tuition from rising and prevent the ongoing increases we have seen in recent years due to administrative waste.
As you may have heard, the Crosswinds East Metro Arts and Science School is likely to close. I worked closely with many parents, instructors and students to find a workable solution, but unfortunately, no legislative action was taken this year. I want to thank those of you who have worked so hard on behalf of this innovative school to help to serve our students.
In addition to education, I have heard from many residents and businesses in our community about the need for job creation to keep Minnesota economically competitive. This session we worked to reverse a decade of cuts to economic development and create new jobs in Minnesota. Our jobs legislation goes a long way to help small businesses, and provides Minnesota employers with a $346 million tax cut. This will save employers an average of $150 per employee and is the largest cut of its kind in state history. The bill will also help high-demand employers fill their vacancies by implementing new job-training and apprenticeship programs at some MnSCU schools. This will help manufacturers and other industries to fill vacancies with skilled workers, and will help students train for real, quality jobs in Minnesota. In addition, we are creating thousands of permanent and construction jobs throughout the state by funding the Rochester Destination Medical Center, 3M expansion, and Vikings stadium projects, in addition to several other new business projects.
I want to thank each and every one of you who has been in touch with me this session. Hearing from you helps me to better represent our community. If you have any questions about these or other legislative proposals, feel free to contact me anytime. I appreciate your input.
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