We're back at work in St. Paul. Today was swearing-in day at the Capitol as gavels came down in both the House and Senate to start the 88th Legislature.
The Capitol landscape is significantly different now, compared with when we adjourned in 2012. For one thing, districts changed; more on that later. Also, Democrats gained control of the House and Senate. We continue to have a Democrat in the governor’s office.
The good news for the new Democrat majorities is our economic outlook has improved since Republicans took control of the Legislature to start the 2011 session. Unemployment has fallen and our state’s bottom line is in far better shape than back then, when we inherited a $6.2 billion shortfall. Our previously drained reserve accounts have been replenished by nearly $1 billion due to three consecutive semi-annual reports showing surplus revenue for this biennium.
Maybe the best development in recent months is we have made significant progress in repaying delayed K-12 funding. The K-12 funding which was shifted as part of the 2011 budget compromise has been fully repaid and we even have paid down K-12 debt enacted under the previous Democrat majority. Schools are now at a biennial split of 82.5/17.5 percent as we move closer to the optimal 90/10 ratio than we have been in a handful of years.
Now, to the district change. A new set of borders is in place, a process which happens every 10 years. I now represent District 18A. It reaches Eden Valley and Watkins to the north, wraps around Cokato to the east, juts southward to cover most of Hutchinson and runs past Cosmos and Grove City to the west.
My committee responsibilities this session include serving as the lead Republican on the Legacy Committee. I also will serve on Capital Investment, Education Policy and Elections.
I will keep you posted as things develop throughout the session. Feel free to provide me with your input. The best way to reach me during the session is by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (651) 296-4344.