The legislative session is less than two weeks from finishing up and a lot needs to come together for things to go smoothly.
Less Than Two Weeks
We must adjourn as midnight strikes on Monday, May 21st. The way it’s looking now, with less than two weeks left, we’re going to see a repeat of past sessions where there’s a flurry of activity in the final weekend. The Republican House and Senate majorities have both passed their respective supplemental budget bills, their tax bills, and are in the process of unveiling their public infrastructure jobs bills. With less than two weeks to go, they’re going to have to not only reconcile all of their differences, but agree to something Governor Dayton will sign.
Governor Dayton has repeatedly urged Republicans to work with him on the issues people in our community care about. Unfortunately, they have yet to meet and have substantive discussions about adequate school funding, finding solutions for state’s opioid crisis, protecting seniors from abuse, making our schools safer and ending senseless gun violence, shoring up state pensions, fixing public infrastructure, and protecting hard-working Minnesotans from tax increases. In fact, the Dayton Administration has sent Republican leaders 270 pages of input and concerns about legislation being considered without much of a response.
I’m hopeful we can work something out in these final two weeks. In the end, my top priority will be to ensure that the needs of our community are met and the values of hard-working Minnesotans are at the forefront.
National Teacher Appreciation Week and Emergency Funding
This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. Everyone has a story about teachers who had an impact on their lives and how it shaped their future. As we #ThankATeacher this week, it’s important that we recognize how difficult their jobs can be. With so many schools facing budget deficits, we don’t want to make this jobs harder by threatening layoffs, program cuts, and even larger class sizes.
Last week we found out that dozens of school districts all over Minnesota are facing immediate budget deficits that could result in teachers and support staff being laid off, along with significant cuts to school programs. As a result, Governor Dayton has called for $138 million in one-time, emergency funding to increase resources for every Minnesota school district by $126 per student, or a 2% per-pupil increase. Today, Governor Dayton sent an open letter to the people of Minnesota, ask them to help him in the effort to encourage legislators to pass emergency school funding.
One of the things that makes Minnesota and our community so great is the high value we place on a quality education. That’s why I’m supporting Governor Dayton’s call for Emergency School Aid, which will ensure every child in our community has a shot at getting the world-class education they deserve.
REAL ID Update
Good news came this week from Department of Homeland Security on REAL ID compliance. The federal government has said Minnesotans will be able to use standard driver’s license or identification cards for domestic air travel or access to federal facilities until 2020. Minnesota is on track to start issuing compliant licenses by October 1, 2018, even though the federal government won’t require them to be REAL ID-compliant until two years later on Oct. 1, 2020.
Asian-Pacific and Jewish American Heritage Months
While May is a month when we celebrate spring, it’s also an important month for honoring Americans. Nationally and in Minnesota, May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and Jewish American Heritage Month. There are some amazing exhibits, events and videos to check out at those links. One of the things that makes Minnesota great is its history of openness and inclusiveness for all those seeking a better life. I’m proud of our state and our long history of being a leader on so many issues.
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