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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Linda Runbeck (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Linda Runbeck

Friday, December 20, 2019

Dear Friends,

Merry Christmas to you and your family and best wishes for an abundant New Year.

In this season of giving, please join me in remembering generously those who could use a helping hand. I think especially right now of the families of the three National Guardsmen who so tragically passed away in a helicopter crash earlier this month.

The nonprofit Central Minnesota Warrior to Citizen partnered with Deerwood Bank to set up the fund for the families of the three Minnesota soldiers: 30-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles Nord of Perham, 28-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Rogers Jr. of Winsted, and 28-year-old Sgt. Kort Plantenberg of Avon.

Donations to the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Memorial Fund can be mailed to Deerwood Bank, PO Box 337, Waite Park, MN  56387. For more information, contact 320-252-4200 or BTYRW2C@gmail.com.

A separate GoFundMe page has been set up to assist the family of Nord. He left behind his wife, Kaley, who is expecting their second child, and a 2-year-old daughter.

Concerns at the University of Minnesota

As a member of the Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee, I have worked hard to rein in rising tuition costs and bloated administrative costs at the University of Minnesota.

Last week, I signed onto a letter to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents urging a delay in a planned vote over concerns about the hiring of a new Provost and Vice President with an annual salary of more than $500,000.

In the letter, my colleagues and I criticized the optics of the move, with the University of Minnesota-Duluth recently announcing budget cuts and layoffs, along with rising tuition costs at the University. The candidate under consideration had never served previously as a Provost, and would be paid more than outgoing Executive Vice President and Provost Karen Hanson, who has been in the role for nearly a decade. You can view a copy of the letter here

In 1994, the same Provost position was paid $125,000 per year. Adjusted for inflation that translates to a salary of roughly $215,000 or less than half of the $545,000 compensation package the new provost is set to receive. Since 1994, tuition for students has increased more than four-fold, from $3,108 to $13,318. The hiring vote took place less than a week after the University of Minnesota-Duluth announced layoffs and budget cuts totaling $5 million.

Ultimately, the hiring was approved despite our objections and unfortunately reinforces my belief that the University continues to make questionable financial decisions.

Transportation Concerns

Transportation concerns are likely to play a key role during this year’s legislative session. Some of these issues include revisiting Governor Walz’s proposed gas tax increase, transit taxes, driver’s license exam wait times, and bus driver shortages.

If you have suggestions on what should be done to address these issues, please contact me, a member of the Transportation Committee at 651-296-2907 or via email at rep.linda.runbeck@house.mn.  

Sincerely,

Rep. Linda Runbeck

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