It's Memorial Day weekend, and I hope you'll have a chance to get to one of our many community Memorial Day events to honor our fallen heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedoms. We are truly blessed to live in this free nation, and we owe it all to these brave men and women.
I am honored to be speaking at a number of events this weekend, include the Long Prairie High School Commencement, as well as the State Veterans Cemetery Memorial Day service on Sunday. I hope to see you there.
Now for some news on the budget. For the last five months, Republicans and Democrats have been working on and last week came together to pass a budget that will do tremendous things for Minnesotans.
With tremendous bipartisan support, we invested more than $400 million in new money into education. 70% of that money will go directly into the classroom, increasing per-pupil funding by an average of more than $200 across the state. Historic investments were made in early-learning programs including scholarships, school readiness funding, and more. We also reformed Minnesota's teacher licensure process to help address the teacher shortage that's affecting Greater Minnesota schools.
I advocated for and passed child protection reforms and funding to ensure we're keeping Minnesota kids safe. It has been a tremendous honor to work with legislative colleagues, child safety experts, public officials, and other stakeholders on Governor Dayton's Task Force on the Protection of Children. Together we developed recommendations, some of which have already been signed into law, and others that were passed in the bipartisan Health and Human Services bill.
As promised, we focused on long-term care funding. Legislators of both parties worked together to pass a generational funding reform for our nursing homes. The reforms mean $138 million in increased funding and will make funding for Greater Minnesota nursing homes more equitable compared to the Metro area. This will help our aging loved ones stay closer to their families, and hopefully put a stop to nursing home closings in parts of Greater Minnesota.
For the first time, we provided funding for small cities to fix their roads and bridges. While we unfortunately did not reach agreement on a long-term transportation plan, we remain committed to coming back in 2016 to find a way to properly address our road and bridge infrastructure without the harmful impact of a gas tax increase.
MNSCU students will see tuition relief at our community colleges. We invested in job training programs to ensure that workers have the skills to match the jobs of the 21st century. Broadband investments will help continue badly-needed broadband expansion to underserved areas, as well as workforce housing to make sure we have affordable housing options close to good-paying job opportunities.
We did our part to get our work done, compromised, and passed a budget that will build a better Minnesota. Governor Dayton unfortunately is choosing a different path that involves an expensive and politically divisive special session. I think Minnesotans deserve better.
Minnesotans can be proud of the work done this session by Republicans and Democrats. In a time when all-too-often legislators of both parties aren't willing to work together, we did what Minnesotans asked us to do; we compromised, we worked together, and we passed a budget on time that invests in our schools, invests in our aging loved ones, and will help millions of Minnesota families.
Have a great weekend,
State Representative, District 09B