There are just 10 days left to go in the legislative session. Leaders of the House and Senate along with Governor Walz are working toward an agreement on the budget. We know compromise is going to be necessary and I hope we can see some movement soon.
While these higher-level discussions about numbers for each area of the budget are taking place, House/Senate conference committees are working through differences between each chamber’s versions of the budget bill. I’m serving on the State Government/Veterans Affairs Conference Committee, and we’ve heard from members of the public on a variety of issues including election security, state labor contracts, redistricting proposals, and many others including the bipartisan work for Veterans we’ve done in the House Veterans Affairs Divisions. Once a bigger-picture agreement is reached on the budget and our conference committee gets a budget “target” we can start to nail down the details of the investments we’ll be making.
One of the areas in which there is still a broad difference between the House DFL and Senate Republicans is education funding. No matter where they live, all Minnesota students should be able to count on excellent schools. Unfortunately for many years the state has underfunded education and this has led to larger class sizes, teacher layoffs, and overall diminished quality. We can do better than this.
The House DFL’s Education budget has strong investments in our schools, with an average increase of three percent in the first year and another two percent in the second. Unfortunately, the Senate only has about a half-percent increase each of the next two years. This doesn’t even keep pace with inflation and will lead to more of the consequences districts have faced over recent years. We’ve also seen a heavier reliance on operating levy referendums. When some communities can contribute more through property taxes, and some choose not to, this leads to inequities between districts.
I’ll keep pushing for an education budget with strong funding for schools across the state.
Last night I appeared on Pioneer Public TV’s program “Your Legislators.” The show airs weekly during the session and features a legislator from each of the four legislative caucuses. We had a good discussion about a number of issues including health care, the opioid crisis, higher education, transportation funding, two-line fishing and more.
You can watch the tape of the program here.
Good luck out on the lakes tomorrow with the fishing opener! The Minnesota DNR has plenty of resources available here. I hope everyone has a fun time, but a safe time, too. Don’t forget to have your personal flotation devices on the boat.
Please continue to contact me with your feedback, input, and if I can ever be of assistance. It’s an honor to be your voice in Saint Paul.
Rep. Rob Ecklund
409 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
Chair, House Veterans and Military Affairs Policy and Finance Division
Legislative Assistant: Josh Kilgard, 651-296-3918