Hello from St. Paul, where we are busy putting the finishing touches on another busy week at the Capitol.
Thank you to all the people who continue providing me with their thoughts on the issues. The input I am receiving is very helpful and greatly appreciated. The subject of property taxes is one that citizens are contacting me about. I encourage people to attend property tax listening sessions we are hosting in the area this Saturday and pass along their thoughts, ideas and concerns. The first meeting will be 9 a.m. in Brainerd at the Central Lakes College cafeteria (501 West College Drive). A second meeting will follow at 2 p.m. at Westside Church in Aitkin (810 Second Street N.W.) I hope you can join us.
As for other news from the Capitol, I was pleased to recently receive a pair of appointments to important commissions.
One appointment I received is to the Legislature’s Permanent School Trust Land Commission. The commission advises the Department of Natural Resources and the school trust lands director on the management of permanent school trust lands. Minnesota currently has approximate 2.5 million acres in school trust land, plus an additional 1 million acres of mineral rights. The revenues generated from these lands are provided to school districts to be used for educating our children. We will examine current management practices to ensure valuable properties continue to be managed in manner that produces a stable stream of funding for our schools.
Another appointment I received is to the Iron Range Resources Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB). This board’s mission is to promote and invest in business, community and workforce development for northeastern Minnesota. This past Tuesday we had our first board meeting here in Saint Paul. We dealt primarily with organizational matters. This is a very important agency to our district. I look forward to working closely with the eight other board members, as well as newly appointed IRRRB Commissioner Mark Phillips and Assistant IRRRB Commissioner Joe Radinovich.
I will keep you updated as things develop. One other thing I want to touch on in this update pertains to Gov. Mark Dayton recently providing state commissioners with substantial raises. People were surprised to learn senior state employees already earning six figures have received salary bumps in the $25,000 to $35,000 range. We need to fairly compensate our commissioners, but the sheer size of these raises has left a lot of people scratching their head.
The previous legislative majority and the governor changed the law in 2013, allowing the governor to unilaterally provide these huge pay raises without legislative approval. You can rest assured we will revisit that item during this legislative session.