Minnesota House of Representatives


State Representative JoAnn Ward

231 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

For more information contact: Susie Merthan 651-296-2955

Posted: Feb 17 2015 12:11PM
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Legislative Update - February 17, 2015

Dear Neighbors,
As you may know, I have been working on what I call “life skills” to be accessible to all of our students.  One aspect of this is financial literacy – the ability to understand how money works, how to manage money, and how to make informed and effective decisions with financial resources.  This is a growing area of interest and concern as we observe the difficulties encountered by citizens of all ages, especially given the recent challenges in the economy. 
A course in financial literacy is available in many of our schools, but it is often too little and too late.  Many of us may remember learning how to balance a checkbook in school, though today’s youth use credit cards and may never even write a check.  The increasing complexity of our economy, and the fact that credit is readily available and little understood, indicates that our students may be missing important skills needed to navigate their adult lives. 
Sound financial literacy is extremely useful for young adults as they approach their first job and start managing their own money.  There is a growing understanding of how young minds develop wisdom, and that financial literacy requires both content and context, taking years to reach mature understanding and the ability to apply the lessons learned to daily life. 
Minnesota ranks fifth in the nation in financial literacy but I believe we can do better. Here in Minnesota, we already have various programs that teach financial literacy to adults. South Washington County Schools Adult Basic Education has a model of their own that builds on common financial literacy skills such as how to balance bank accounts, how the tax system functions, and how to plan for the future and what to do when you are behind on bills or need a loan.  Planning for retirement and the “unexpected” is more important than ever.
Financial literacy is bigger than just managing money—it extends to knowing how to maintain what you buy and making wise decisions about using resources. It involves making healthy choices, for instance, to avoid paying medical bills for preventable ailments. This type of education is an important part of keeping our communities healthy and economically strong.   I will be working to widen access to financial literacy programs and will continue to advocate for the improvement of financial literacy and other “life skills” in our schools.
Town Hall Meeting
Please join Senator Susan Kent and me for a town hall meeting on Saturday, February 28th at 10:00am at the Woodbury City Hall. We hope you are able to attend to share your concerns.
Please contact me anytime during the legislative session with your input. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-7807 or by email at rep.joann.ward@house.mn
JoAnn Ward
State Representative

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