Greetings from St. Paul. Among topics of discussion this week are Gov. Mark Dayton providing significant raises to state commissioners, news from a panel working to bring accountability to the Met Council, and an invitation to local citizens to attend a pair of legislative town hall meetings in our area.
RAISES CAUSE KERFUFFLE
The recent revelation that Gov. Mark Dayton provided annual salary increases of $25,000 to $35,000 for a couple dozen state commissioners already making six-figure incomes created headlines this week.
Back in 2013, when Democrats and Dayton had full control of the Legislature, they changed the law so the governor can raise salaries without legislative approval. Despite the best attempts by those who opposed this change, it went into effect and largely flew under the radar until now.
Bipartisan objection is mounting to the fact tax dollars from hardworking Minnesotans – many of whom haven’t seen a raise themselves in years – are being used to give double-digit increases to state employees who already were quite fairly compensated. It sent a bad message to citizens of this state. Initiatives to postpone these raises, or altogether repeal them, are emerging in the Legislature.
SUB-COMMITTEE ON MET COUNCIL HEARS FROM CITIES AND COUNTIES
Hearings in the sub-committee on Metropolitan Council Transparency and Accountability began this week with testimony from several metro counties and cities. The growing concern from the elected officials is that the Met Council dictates rather than listens and is not responsive to their concerns about the negative impact of the new ThriveMSP 2040 plan. The Plan is a 143-page document that describes the Met Council's central planning vision for how we'll live and get around in 2040. Here's a hint: no more new roadways and lots of new transitways. In addition, their vision incorporates densely-stacked multi-family housing along transitways and little single-family residential housing.
The Sub-Committee, which I chair, will be hearing legislative proposals to make reforms to the Met Council. Input from the public is welcome.
TOWN HALL MEETINGS
Sen. Roger Chamberlain and I will co-host two town hall forums for residents of Hugo, Centerville, Lino Lakes, and the surrounding area Feb. 28 and 28 to discuss the state budget and other legislative issues. These meetings provide great opportunities for us to share thoughts on a wide variety of topics and we welcome your input as we prepare to make important decisions this session. Here is the schedule:
When: 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24
Where: American Legion Post 566: 7731 Lake Drive Lino Lakes, MN 55014
When: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28,
Where: Bonfire Wood Fire Cooking: 4365 Pheasant Ridge Drive NE, Blaine, MN 55449
For more information, call my legislative office at 651-296-2907.