I hope you’re making the most of our winter weather. There are so many wonderful things to enjoy this time of year, and I hope the season provides quality time with family and friends to enjoy them.
Moose Lake School Dedication
I recently had the honor of joining the Moose Lake community to dedicate their new school. I was proud to work together with local leaders to secure enhanced equalization funding to get the project done. It will be a great asset to the community!
Minnesota is Best Run State in U.S.A.
Our great state was recently ranked #1 in the nation, and it’s no surprise to many of us! USA Today named us the Best-Run State in the Nation, highlighting “Minnesota’s strong fiscal management, low unemployment and poverty rates, above-average median household income, and strong credit rating.”
Since ranking 10th in 2012, Minnesota has consistently climbed in the same study under Governor Dayton’s leadership on better government reforms. In general, Minnesota’s level of government services are good and the size of our government very lean. The numbers strongly demonstrate what many of us already know. In another recent survey, a majority of Minnesotans said they were satisfied with the value they receive from state government.
November Budget Forecast
The high marks we receive is great news, but the future of Governor Dayton’s progress on fixing our chronic budget problems seems to be in doubt because of Republican tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Earlier this month we got news that Minnesota Management and Budget projects a deficit of $188 million ($302 million when the full budget is passed) for 2018-2019. What’s worse – the deficit is set to grow over the next few years to $586 million.
Going into the 2017 session, Minnesota had a $1.6 billion budget surplus. In less than a year, the irresponsible Republican budget plan turned that surplus into a deficit due in part to tax cuts for corporations like big tobacco. Irresponsible tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy will lead us right back to governing from crisis to crisis like we experienced under Governor Pawlenty.
Text to 9-1-1
Minnesotans are now able to text 9-1-1 for help. Law enforcement still encourages people to call 911 when possible, but this new technology offers a text option. This will be incredibly important for people with hearing and speech disabilities, as well as in situations where it may be unsafe to make an audible phone call, such as in cases of domestic violence or sex trafficking. The Pioneer Press put together a nice “how-to” for texting to 9-1-1.
MNsure Extended Sign-up Still Open
Do you have health insurance for next year? You can still shop and compare health insurance plans at MNsure, a website operated by the state government, at www.mnsure.org. You can also call (855) 366-7873 or (651) 539-2099. If you visit MNsure or call those numbers, you can apply for financial help to lower your health insurance costs. But make sure to do that by January 14! That’s the last day to sign up for coverage in 2018.
Reminder: Heating Assistance and Cold Weather Rule
As a reminder, the burden of heating bills can be too much to bear for some families, and no one deserves to be left in the cold. For those Minnesotans under certain income levels, help may be available for payment of energy bills, help with utility disconnections or fuel deliveries, and advocacy with power companies and human service providers. For more information please visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s website here.
The Minnesota Cold Weather Rule is now also in effect, which protects residential utility customers from having their heat shut off during the winter months. More information is available from the Public Utilities Commission here.
As always, it’s an honor to represent you at the Capitol.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!