I hope you and your family are doing well. Over the last couple of weeks, the Minnesota House has been home to some lengthy floor sessions as we work through our budget bills. For my part, I’m committed to using our surplus to ensure our entire state can succeed and thrive with investments in workers, businesses, students, farmers, and everyone else who deserves a strong future.
Here’s an update on some of our work down at the State Capitol.
Last week, House DFLers, Senate Republicans, and Governor Walz reached a bipartisan agreement to fully replenish the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund while also supporting frontline workers including health care workers, first responders, child care providers, food service and retail workers, and more with bonus checks. By using resources from our budget surplus to replenish the UI Trust Fund, we’re helping businesses avoid a tax increase.
Since last year, the frontline workers – who showed up to work every day and put their own health in jeopardy to keep our state moving forward – have been counting on an extra bonus for their dedication. Now, with this compromise in law, the state of Minnesota is currently developing an online application system. Workers can sign up to receive updates at frontlinepay.mn.gov. We expect the system to be up and running in just a few weeks, and workers will have 45 days to apply once the application process opens. A full FAQ document, including eligibility information, is available here.
Chairing the House Agriculture Committee has been one of my most rewarding roles during my time at the Capitol. Minnesota has a rich agriculture tradition and food grown and produced in our state feeds the entire world. The House recently approved our supplemental Agriculture budget delivering new funding for a variety of important initiatives including soil health improvements, noxious weed and invasive plant species eradication, pollinator protection, cover crop development, and new opportunities for farmers market vendors.
The bill includes investments in small meat cutters and processors, support for hunger relief, financial assistance to emerging farmers, and more. It also increases funding for our response to emergencies like the current Avian Influenza outbreak. Now, the bill goes into conference committee with the Senate so we can reach a bipartisan agreement. Additionally, as many farmers are getting ready to plant, we’re also working on a compromise to deliver relief to farmers helping them recover from last year’s drought.
We’re all too familiar with the challenges our schools have faced over the last two years, and our House Education budget delivers critical resources to support Minnesota schools and students. The bill includes a focus on literacy and overall academic success, including the BOLD literacy package and funding for Math Corps, along with new investments in early learning. Minnesota currently has one of the worst student-to-counselor ratios in the country. Our bill includes funding to hire around 1,100 student support personnel so that students have greater access to counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses – all of whom are important to their development.
For decades, federal special education and English learner funding levels have fallen short of what schools need to fulfill these important responsibilities. As a result, our schools have to “cross-subsidize” special education and English learner programming from their general education funding, and to do so, are often forced to resort to local property tax levies. The House Education bill provides significant ongoing revenue to address these shortfalls.
All Minnesota students deserve a world-class education, and with a historic budget surplus, we have the opportunity to help them succeed throughout their learning journeys.
To stay up to date with what’s happening at the State Capitol, the Minnesota House Public Information Services office has a variety of timely, non-partisan resources. You can subscribe to Session Daily which provides regular updates of legislative activity, watch live and archived floor sessions or committee meetings on YouTube, and check out informative publications with information about the legislature and our state government.
It’s extremely important to me to receive input and ideas from those I have the honor to represent. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your viewpoints, feedback, or if I can ever be of assistance. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and phone number at the Capitol is 651-296-4308. Feel free to be in touch any time.