Committee work is intensifying at the Capitol and one thing I am concentrating on is finding ways the state can deliver better service at a better price.
Two committees on which I serve are Education Finance and Health and Human Services Finance. Together, they account for almost 75 percent of our state’s General Fund budget (Education 30.4 percent, HHS 43.2 percent) with a price tag of around $25 billion. These are two areas we need to thoroughly examine to determine what kind of results we are obtaining before we consider spending more.
One thing am working to address is the K-12 funding disparity between the metro and Greater Minnesota. As I recently wrote, the money we spend on education is heavily tilted toward the Twin Cities area, with about $14,000 appropriated for each metro student compared with about $8,000 for students in areas like ours. We need to do more to improve how education is funded, where our money is going and what results are we getting.
On the HHS front, I am looking into ways we can reduce the number of people who use emergency rooms in non-emergency situations. This is a huge issue in certain “hot spot” areas, placing an excessive burden on some hospitals and adding significant costs to taxpayers.
I will keep you posted as we develop ideas for doing things better. Please continue providing me with your input by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.