With budgets passed off the House and Senate floors, members of the legislature are now spending the majority of their time in negotiations, trying to find consensus on a budget that will fund Minnesota for the next two years.
Many legislators are part of the conference committee hearings, where assigned members from the House and Senate negotiate portions of the budget that they’ll then send back to the House and Senate for approval. There is a conference committee assigned to each area of Minnesota’s budget that I summarized in last week’s legislative update, with many of them already holding hearings.
As Chair of the Ways and Mean Committee, I have been meeting with Speaker Hortman, Majority Leader Winkler, Governor Walz, and GOP Senate leadership to try and come to an agreement on the big picture budget issues. Our current challenge is finding agreed-on finance targets for our conference committees, a goal we were hoping to meet earlier this week. This was a self-imposed goal in an attempt to provide transparency and organization to what can often be hectic final weeks, but the reluctance of our GOP Senate colleagues to engage in meaningful conversations threatens an orderly and timely end to session.
Negotiations among leadership continue, as do conference committees. While budget proposals will come out of negotiations looking different for both legislative bodies, our DFL House budget does more to invest in a stronger Minnesota, and I hope our colleagues in the Senate recognize the importance of these investments.
Investing in Education
One of the highlights in the DFL House budget is our historic investment in education. The budget is inspired by parents, students, teachers, staff, and administrators who told legislators how growing class sizes and budget cuts have impacted the quality of instruction, support, and education in schools.
Schools all over the state will see per-pupil funding increases, with Robbinsdale Area Schools seeing a $757 increase per student, and Osseo Schools seeing a $602 increase per student. We’re adequately funding schools so that they can hire additional support staff such as licensed counselors, psychologists, social workers, and nurses. We’ve also taken steps to address decades of special education funding shortfalls, ensuring that the state steps up for the mandates it places on school districts.
The GOP Senate budget doesn’t do nearly enough to invest in our students. The differences in our priorities can be vast in some places, but I’m hopeful we’ll reach a point in negotiations soon where we can come together to improve our schools for our students and communities.
Stay In Touch
As always, and I want to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions you might have about our work at the State Capitol. You can always reach me at (651) 296-4255, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.