Here's wishing you and yours a blessed Easter and Passover. I hope you are able to spend extra time in the company of friends and loved ones this week as we make the journey to Easter Sunday.
The Legislature is not meeting in St. Paul this week in observance of the Easter and Passover holidays. That has provided me with more time in the district, meeting constituents and catching up on answering the many letters and emails I receive each week.
This week I met with the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center staff in Crosby. We discussed a wide range of issues relevant to health care in rural Minnesota, including nursing home, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates, tele-medicine advances, health insurance deductible issues, and our ability continue to attract the dedicated professionals necessary to provide quality health care services here in rural Minnesota.
I also attended a Rosenmeier Forum on higher-education funding at Central Lakes College in Brainerd. Speakers included Representative Bud Nornes, Chair of the House Higher Education Committee; Dr. Laura King, Vice Chancellor, MN State Colleges; and Dr. Toyia Younger, Associate Vice Chancellor, MN State Colleges.
The discussion focused around historical funding patterns and what the future may hold. In 2002, state community college appropriations covered about 66 percent of college tuition costs and students picked up the remaining 34 percent. Over the past 12 years that ratio has almost flipped, with students now paying about 53 percent of tuition costs and the state contributing the other 47 percent.
Rep. Nornes who chaired the higher-ed committee during the budget deficit years indicated that the Legislature is working hard to get back to a 50-50 funding split. Vice Chancellor King praised Rep. Nornes efforts as an important step in providing the training necessary to replace the huge number of the baby-boomer generation that retire from the work force every year.
This week I received a very important resolution signed by Mayor Peterson of the City of Riverton outlining issues with transportation funding for small cities (less than 5,000 population). I was happy to report to Mayor Peterson that the House Transportation funding package recognizes that issue and that we are working to provide dedicated funding in this area.
We will be back in St. Paul next week as we begin the push toward the end of the session in late May. The many issues we have been working on will begin to come before the full House for a vote. Stay tuned and I'll keep you posted.
Have a blessed Easter and Passover,