First of all, I’d like to congratulate all the students who are graduating soon. You should be very proud of this accomplishment, especially since so many of you experienced unprecedented challenges over the past year. I hope the lessons you’ve learned inside and outside the classroom will serve you well in the future. Whether you are heading to college, entering the workforce, or still figuring out the path ahead, I wish you all the best.
Work Continues at the Capitol
Legislators are still working on developing a strong and equitable state budget. While we had hoped to pass a two-year budget by May 17 – the day the Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn – we received guidance on how nearly $2.8 billion of federal aid could be used just a few days prior. Since these American Rescue Plan funds would not have been included if we had passed a budget before the regular session ended, Governor Walz would have been responsible for deciding how to allocate them. Our new goal is to craft a budget that incorporates these funds and has bipartisan support by mid-June, when the governor is expected to call for a special session.
While we’re still negotiating, House DFLers, Senate Republicans, and Governor Walz have agreed on a framework for the new budget. It outlines how $52 billion, a combination of state resources and federal aid, will be invested over the next two years. I am pleased to report it contains enough funds to make significant investments in education and other priorities. Legislators from the House and Senate are working together to finalize the details. I will continue sharing updates on our progress, so please stay tuned.
Improving Health and Human Services
Legislators have found common ground in a few areas. Recently, we approved a bipartisan package of health and human services policies. This legislation makes several positive changes, such as:
There is more work to be done, but this demonstrates that legislators are capable of working on a bipartisan basis.
While I am not a member of the Health and Human Services Conference Committee that crafted this legislation, I am working closely with those who are. As chair of the House Behavioral Health Policy Division, I am supporting my colleagues as they work to improve services for Minnesotans struggling with mental health, addiction, and substance abuse disorder. I hope the final budget will help more people get the support they need to manage these issues.
Rental Assistance is Now Available
Help is available for low- and moderate-income Minnesotans who are struggling to pay their rent or utility bills. If you have experienced challenges due to COVID-19 and fallen behind on rent, you may be eligible for assistance. You can determine if you’re eligible and find out what documents you’ll need to apply by downloading the renter checklist at www.renthelpmn.org. Assistance is available for landlords as well.
RentHelpMN is currently accepting applications from those who owe back rent. All eligible Minnesotans will be invited to apply for rent and utility assistance at a later date. To learn more, visit www.renthelpmn.org or call 211.
Apply for a Property Tax Refund
Many homeowners and renters in Minnesota qualify for a property tax refund based on their income and property taxes. You can find out if you’re eligible by visiting the Department of Revenue’s website. If you are, I encourage you to apply. The filing deadline is August 15.
Explore Our State Parks
I hope you and your loved ones have had a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather we’ve had lately. If you haven’t visited one of Minnesota’s state parks recently, now is a great time to plan a trip! Admission to all state parks and recreation areas will be free on Saturday, June 12. You can view a map of Minnesota’s state parks here; if you’re interested in learning more about one of them, just click on the name for more information.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or if I can be of assistance. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-5363.