The legislative session has hit the half-way mark and there are a couple interesting recent developments.
The finished products of a legislative session are policy and finance bills that get signed into law by the Governor. If the finished products of the legislative session were fine ceramics, we would be at the lumps of clay phase. The lumps of clay are still mounds taking shape. We are a couple weeks away from sending them to the kiln the first time, glazing them, and re-firing them.
Legislative policy and budget proposals are in rough draft form right now. The rough drafts will be discussed in committees, we will revise them with amendments, and vote those bills out of committee. Then we will revise them more on the House floor before they are voted on again.
In late February we received the budget forecast, and in mid- to late March we received the budget proposals the House will be acting on during April and May. The Governor and the House Republicans put forward their major budget outlines, which I have summarized here.
Governor Dayton Budget Focused on Children and Families
On March 16th, Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget. Gov. Dayton proposes to invest 80% of the budget surplus in children, students and families. His proposal builds on the education policy successes of the last two years. Because all-day, every-day kindergarten has been such a success, and so many families have benefitted from the tuition freeze at state colleges and universities, Gov. Dayton proposes continued progress in education. He proposes to fund universal preschool and to provide enough funding to continue the tuition freeze at state colleges and universities for another two years.
Highlights of Governor Dayton’s Supplemental Budget:
Governor Dayton and House DFLers are committed to continuing the success Minnesota saw over the last two years.
House Republicans introduce their proposed budget
On March 24th, House Republicans released their budget targets. Their proposal prioritizes tax cuts over investing in education.
The Republican plan would cut taxes by $2 billion. They have not specified who would get the tax breaks, but HF1, their top priority – was largely a corporate and business tax cut bill.
Despite a $1.9 billion surplus, the Republican budget calls for less than a 1% increase in K-12 education funding. The Republican budget would not provide the funding necessary to continue the college tuition freeze at all state colleges and universities. In the Republican budget, for every $1 that goes to education they cut taxes by $15.
Despite Minnesota’s budget surplus, the Republican budget would cut more than $1 billion from health care services for seniors and people with disabilities. In addition, the proposed Republican budget would cut millions from job expansion efforts, the environment, and capital improvement projects across the state.
While Minnesota’s economy is thriving and unemployment is very low, we should be working to create more opportunity for all Minnesotans, not catering to corporate special interests.
As more details emerge on the Republican budget plan I will let you know. We will be seeing the detailed budget bills in our committees soon. I will be pushing for a more balanced approach that puts children, students, low and middle income families, seniors, and people with disabilities ahead of corporate special interests.
A busy April and May ahead
I will be in committee hearings for longer hours as we go through the remainder of April. Then in May we will be on the House floor most of the time. Please remember that all committee hearings are open to the public, as are all floor sessions. Please continue to share your thoughts with me. I appreciate your input as I consider policy proposals. Thank you and happy spring!