Gov. Dayton called a special session which began at 10 a.m. last Friday and lasted until approximately 2 a.m. Saturday. Because the Capitol is under renovation, we met in the State Office Building which was the first time in 110 years the Legislature met outside of the Capitol building.
We concluded the one-day special session after taking up five omnibus spending bills for the new two-year state budget:
Of those five bills, I voted "yes" for three and "no" for two. I voted yes for the Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources bill, the Jobs/Energy bill, and the Legacy bill. I voted no on the K-12 Education bill and the Bonding bill.
Equity in Education is the number one issue in our area, which has been reiterated to me over and over again by students, parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, and school board members all across our community. Our schools are near the bottom of the funding formula and I strongly believe a child’s educational opportunities should not be dependent upon a child’s ZIP code.
I have worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the inequity of the current K-12 education funding formula. I was the chief author of two bills this session designed to target additional funding to our rural schools near the bottom by more equitably distributing state funds. One of my bills was Metro Equity and the other was Disparity Aid, and both bills received committee hearings. I was hopeful at least one of my bills would make it to the final omnibus education finance bill, but unfortunately neither did.
I was not alone. Colleague representatives with school districts similar to ours authored similar bills. Nevertheless, despite the approximate $1.4 billion funding increase in K-12 education spending over the previous biennium (amounting to approximately $525 million new funding over the base), efforts to begin to correct the funding inequity between those school districts funded at the top vs. our school districts funded at the bottom were insufficient in my opinion. I could not vote for the final education finance bill which had ample opportunity to include funding for Metro Equity and/or Disparity Aid, but which instead overlooked much needed reforms in favor of the funding inequity status quo.
There is good news, however. Our continued efforts to raise awareness for Equity in Education are effective as more people than ever are becoming cognizant of the problem. I look forward to continuing working hard fighting for our schools and expanding opportunities for our children.
Regarding the $373 million Bonding bill, I voted no because the bonding bill was too large and contained too many earmarks.
Thank you again for the honor and privilege representing your voice in the Legislature. I look forward to spending the summer meeting and reconnecting with people all over our community back home. I will be door knocking and attending events listening to your feedback as I prepare for the 2016 session including work on a long-term transportation plan focusing on road and bridges without raising taxes. As a member of the Legislative Commission on Data Practices and Personal Data Privacy, I will also be working over the summer on data security issues. The Legislative Commission will be meeting during the months of the interim.
Albertville Friendly City Days parade was yesterday. Weather was fantastic and it was a great turnout!
My email updates will be less frequent now that we are out of session, but please stay in touch and let me know how I may be of assistance.
State Rep. District 30B
Albertville, Hanover, Otsego, Saint Michael, and the Wright County portion of Dayton