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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL)

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COLUMN: Session saw victories for Minnesotans

Friday, June 30, 2017

Originally printed in the Eden Prairie News.

The 2017 legislative session, my first as a member of the Minnesota House, wrapped up just about one month ago. Positive budget projections gave us the opportunity to support the priorities that make us proud to be Minnesotans.

In Minnesota, we value our strong public schools, affordable and accessible health care, abundant natural resources, and overall, the ability for every family to get a shot at prosperity in our economy. We were able to move forward in some of these areas, yet in others, work remains.

All of our E-12 students deserve to have the resources they need to achieve in the classroom. Especially with a budget surplus, it was imperative that we deliver on this value. I was disheartened by the House majority’s initial proposal to underfund our schools, not even covering the cost of inflation, and to cut voluntary pre-K.

This would have led to teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and the elimination of a key strategy for promoting academic success. Thankfully, we were able to deliver a 2 percent funding increase each of the next two years and additionally investments in early learning.

I’m also pleased we were able to pass some sensible tax cuts. These included broadening the exemption on Social Security income taxes, expansion of the Working Family Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Credit, as well as a tax cut for small businesses.

Together, these will both benefit working families and enhance our strong business climate. However, I do remain concerned that the House majority insisted on keeping large tax cuts for special interests, such as big tobacco. We should rethink these to ensure that we do not fall into a deficit in future years.

We were also able to make some strides in ensuring our communities remain safe and healthy for everybody. I was proud to support some community-based mental health initiatives, strategies for fighting opioid addiction, and training for peace officers to de-escalate crisis situations.

There were also proposals to roll back key protections for clean air and water, and I’m proud to have helped stop these.

There are certainly challenges ahead of us to ensure all working families can find success in our economy. The cost of a college degree remains out of reach for many in our state, and Minnesota is fifth in the nation for student debt loads.

To ensure young Minnesotans can go to college without taking on crushing debt, we must keep tuition at our public colleges and universities in check.

Given the controversy at the federal level, health care costs will continue to receive attention at the Legislature. Regrettably, much of the discussion has been hyperpartisan and, frankly, unproductive.

Rethinking and reforming the delivery of health care in our state requires us to work across the aisle to hear all ideas. I’m committed to a rigorous, bipartisan approach that will lead to policies that both control costs and improve the health of Minnesotans.

Our work was completed this session with one caveat: a line-item veto of funding for the House and Senate. As you may have heard, a lawsuit was filed regarding this.

No matter which way this is decided, I’m hopeful for a speedy resolution.

The 2018 session will begin on Feb. 20 and between now and then, I encourage those in the community to reach out to me anytime. Feel free to contact me with any ideas, feedback, questions, or if I can ever be of assistance at 651-296-9889 or It’s an honor to represent the people of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Laurie Pryor, DFL-Minnetonka, is the state representative for District 48A, which covers southern Minnetonka and northern Eden Prairie.