I have a few tidbits I’d like to pass along today.
EARLY CHILDHOOD ADVISORY COUNCIL APPOINTMENT
I recently accepted a position with the Early Childhood Advisory Council, which works to improve the educational outcomes of children in Minnesota. Minority Leader Kurt Zellers appointed me. The ECAC makes recommendations to the governor and Legislature, including proposed legislation on how to effectively create a high-quality early childhood system in Minnesota. The council is responsible for fulfilling the duties required by federal and state statutes.
This appointment is a natural extension of my work in the Legislature since I currently serve on three separate committees pertaining to the areas of education and early childhood. I am honored to accept this position and look forward to developing plans to give our children the best chance possible to thrive academically.
NAVIGATING CASH-FLOW PROBLEMS
We recently received word Minnesota’s finance officials are preparing to borrow money and delay some payments to keep our state from dipping below our recommended minimum balance. Projections call for the state checkbook to sink below the $400 million threshold by September and to fall as low as $9 million by November.
Officials say borrowing could be coupled with withholdings in payments made to schools that have a certain level of reserves, colleges, health care companies and businesses owed tax refunds.
Borrowing or delaying payments may help us in the short term, but it will do nothing to address the $5 to $7 billion shortfall forecast for next year. Minnesota is spending $200 million more per month than it is receiving in revenue and that has to change before we can get our finances back on solid ground.
INTEGRITY AND OUR ELECTIONS
In case you missed it, an organization called Minnesota Majority conducted an 18-month investigation into the 2008 U.S. Senate election and says it found several hundred votes illegally cast by felons. Al Franken defeated Norm Coleman by 312 votes.
In the name of full disclosure, Minnesota Majority is a conservative group and I cannot vouch for the accuracy of its report. Regardless, there are things we can and should do to help promote integrity in our elections.
We took some steps last session to improve absentee ballots, make sure military ballots will be counted, and ensure accurate counting at the polls. Another big improvement would be making photo ID a requirement to vote. Statewide polls show approximately 85 percent of Minnesotans favor photo IDs, but the majority denied an amendment we offered last session to make that happen. Other states have successfully implemented voter ID and the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld such legislation as constitutional.