The pace is quickly picking up here at the State Capitol. There is a full schedule of committee hearings, and many bills are beginning to move through the process.
Yesterday, Gov. Mark Dayton announced his two-year budget proposal. While I’m still combing through the details, and House Committees will be briefed on this in-depth in the coming days and weeks, there are some promising items, particularly in the area of education.
In his budget, Gov. Dayton calls for a per-pupil formula increase of 2 percent in each of the next two years. Our schools are terrific, but we’re in danger of falling behind. We must keep pace with the demands our school districts are facing as we seek to deliver a world class education to all our students. Significantly, the Governor also seeks an increase of $75 million for voluntary pre-K education. Currently, the number of school districts that wish to expand these offerings is much greater than what is available from the state of Minnesota. Getting our youngest learners off on the right foot is a proven way to increase achievement, and also provides important economic benefits to us all down the road. This is an important priority of mine, and I’ll be working hard on this issue.
As we work through this process, I will be working to make sure our budget expands opportunities to all Minnesotans including students, small business owners, and working families. Minnesotans also expect us to pass a fiscally responsible budget. The decisions we make need to keep us on a path to ensure our ability to weather any potential future economic storm, and keep us from going back into deficit situations.
I’d also like to share my best wishes for Governor Dayton as he faces some health challenges. We know from his time in public service that he is a fighter, and I hope his treatment and recovery will be successful.
In the very near future, we’re likely to take up on the House Floor a bill fixing our state’s compliance with the federal “Real ID” requirements. As you may know, Minnesota has been given a deadline of January 22, 2018 to update security standards on driver’s licenses and identification cards in order to board commercial aircraft, visit military bases, or enter certain federal buildings.
It’s critical that we take action on this issue. Minnesotans want certainty that they will be able to board airplanes when the deadline comes in 2018. There are other forms of identification folks can provide in lieu of a Real ID compliant license, such as a passport, but these are costly and many Minnesotans don’t have one. I’m committed to giving Minnesotans the peace of mind that when they show up to get on an airplane, their driver’s license will be sufficient to get through security and on to their destination.
You can read more about the bill moving through the House in the nonpartisan Session Daily.
I invite you to stay in touch with me with your concerns, ideas and questions. Feel free to email me or call me anytime; it’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol.