Other than meetings with legislators, pages assist legislators during floor sessions, hold mock committee hearings, and participate in other activities to develop leadership skills and to inspire them to think critically about the issues confronting our state.
Here is an update from St. Paul.
Omnibus Bills Take Shape
Yesterday, we considered a mammoth, disjointed finance bill with jobs, energy, state government, environment, and agriculture all thrown together. The bill that was passed also contained pages upon pages of controversial policy, including one that I think would make redistricting more partisan and more likely to favor incumbents. This policy prevailed over the plan I favored, which would create an independent redistricting commission to make recommendations to the legislature based on public input.
If the bill advances to the Governor’s desk in its current form with the many controversial policy provisions and harmful cuts to state agencies, the Governor’s budget commissioner said it would result in a veto.
Next up, all of the mammoth budget bills will be considered by a single House/Senate conference committee. Minnesotans deserve better. As things move toward the finish line, I hope there can be more transparency and accountability to produce better results for our state.
Increasing Funding for Education
Many school districts throughout the state are experiencing large budget crunches, and others, like Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Hopkins, are having to dig deeper – millions of dollars deeper – because the state and federal responsibilities for special education aren’t keeping up.
Gov. Dayton released a plan this week to provide emergency, one-time funding for school districts across the state. The plan would invest $137.9 million to increase school resources by 2 percent in the coming year, amounting to an additional $126 for every student in Minnesota. Long-term, more work needs to be done to make sure every child has access to an equitable, excellent education, but for now, this is a great step to protect opportunities for students.
Public Safety Bill
On Tuesday, we considered the 2018 Public Safety bill. One glaring shortcoming has been the lack of action to prevent gun violence. Despite upwards of 89 percent of support for reasonable measures such as expanded criminal background checks and extreme risk protection orders, the Republican majority has allowed no progress on this critical issue. I shared my disappointment on the House Floor, and you can view my remarks here.