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News from Rep. Dave Baker 02-20-2015

Friday, February 20, 2015
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
 
It's the end of another busy week in Saint Paul. Yesterday I had the opportunity to present my bill to make school funding for Greater Minnesota schools more equitable. My bill would give Greater Minnesota schools the same equity funding that schools in the Metro receive. I was so glad to have Dan Tait from Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District, and Pam Harrington from Willmar Public Schools at the committee hearing on Thursday to testify in support of this bill.
 
 
Commissioner Pay Raises
Yesterday the House voted to put the power to raise commissioner salaries back in the hands of the legislature, where the public can be included in the discussion. This was in response to news earlier this month that the Governor gave more than $800,000 in salary increases to his commissioners without public approval. This power was given to him by the DFL-controlled legislature in 2013. The move came as a part of what's known as the deficiency bill, which helps state agencies with additional funding to cover unexpected expenses. Some other highlights of the bill:
 
-Asks agencies to live within their means by finding other efficiencies and cost savings to cover budget shortfalls.
-Freezes commissioner salaries until July
-Made small cuts to agency budgets totaling the amount of the pay raises for commissioners.
 
The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support, and I was glad to vote YES to put the public back in the discussion when it comes to executive salaries.
 
Update on DHS cuts to Willmar
Deputy DHS Commissioner Anne Barry visited the Kandiyohi County Board meeting earlier this week to discuss the potential DHS cuts impacting Willmar. You can read more about her visit in the West Central Tribune by clicking here. I will keep you up to date as I continue to work with DHS and local mental health officials on a way forward.
 
Events this weekend
The New London Area Merchants Association is hosting a "Cabin Fever" event with hot chocolate, cider, cookies, an ice castle, and other activities at Peace Lutheran Church. For more information on this family-friendly event, please click here.
 
As always, my door is open and I want to hear your feedback and comments. Reach my office any time by contacting rep.dave.baker@house.mn or by phone at 651-296-6206.
 
Have a great weekend,

Dave Baker
State Representative, District 17B
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