It's been a busy stretch as I continue meeting with various groups to discuss important issues in preparation for the 2016 session.
The feedback I have received is very helpful. For instance, water-related issues are causing concern for local governments. They say requirements/mandates handed down by state agencies are excessive and overreaching, placing an undue burden on small towns. This, in turn, can hamstring budgets, driving up taxes and/or increasing reliance upon local-government aid from the state. These are bipartisan concerns and it seems we can make improvements in regard to the customer service state agencies provide to local governments.
The subject of LGA came up in a recent meeting with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. This is an important issue and the information Coalition members provided is appreciated.
The cities also indicated how pleased they are with transportation funding House Republicans led to passage in 2015. Cities of $5,000 residents or fewer are eligible to receive a portion of the $12.5 million in road aid that was provided.
The Minnesota State Community and Technical College advisory committee, of which I am a member, also recently met. One subject we addressed is a new pilot program which offers tuition-free or low-cost college in our state. This was an initiative I worked to bring to enactment last year as chairman of the House higher ed. committee.
The program is designed to make college more affordable and also help match students with workforce needs. I will continue supporting it as long as it produces results. The Daily Journal ran an article on this pilot project earlier this week and you can click here for the full story.
The 2016 session is barely more than one month from starting. Look for an overview of top issues on the agenda in an upcoming email. Your thoughts always are welcome.