There are about six weeks remaining in the legislative session, and committees are wrapping up work on various finance bills. Our “Minnesota Values Budget” makes significant investments in education, affordable health care, and safe, prosperous communities. Next week will mark our recess for the Easter/Passover holiday and when we return, the entire House will vote on our budget bills. These have been put together in an open, accountable fashion and I think having a full week before we consider them on the floor will allow for even more public input.
Session Daily has nonpartisan summaries of our budget bills available here.
MN Legislative Report
This past weekend I had the opportunity to join WDSE’s “MN Legislative Report.” We discussed a variety of issues currently under consideration at the Capitol. You can watch the hour-long program here.
Monday, the House passed HF 2181, my bipartisan bill to create a pathway for communities to secure “Telecommuter Forward!” status from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development. “Telecommuter Forward!” is a tool for communities to promote telecommuting as part of their economic development strategy and strengthen broadband connectivity.
In Greater Minnesota we have a fantastic quality of life, with rural character and terrific natural resources. We also know that for our communities to thrive, we need new strategies to diversify our economies to keep them strong. The ability for employers to offer telecommuting as an option can carry tremendous impact toward this goal. Instead of forcing Minnesotans to “move to where the jobs are,” telecommuting allows us to bring the jobs home. This program will serve as a catalyst for helping communities to grow, enhance their economies, and deal with future challenges.
With new initiatives like this, coupled with robust investments in high-speed broadband, I’m extremely confident Minnesota can become a leader in this area. As we work to deliver fast, reliable broadband to all Minnesotans, “Telecommuter Forward!” status can help communities which have good broadband access already market themselves to potential employers.
All Minnesota students deserve a world-class education but unfortunately, recent budgets haven’t kept up with what families expect. Teachers have been laid off, programs have been cut, class sizes have ballooned, and key support staff has been reduced. Over and over, districts have asked property taxpayers to increase local operating levies. This isn’t sustainable, isn’t equitable, and isn’t a substitute for robust, fair funding directly from the state of Minnesota. Solving this problem will require us to think boldly to ensure the level of education we know we’re capable of delivering as Minnesotans.
The Education section of the Minnesota Values Budget makes honest and significant investments in all Minnesota classrooms, with a 3 percent increase the first year of the biennium and a 2 percent increase the second. The budget also addresses growing special education costs for districts (due to the federal government not fulfilling their promised funding), allows districts to hire more critical personnel like counselors, psychologists, and social workers, and secures funding for early learning. I’m also pleased the bill invests in full-service community schools, an emerging model with comprehensive academic, social, and health services for students and family members to improve outcomes.
I’m hopeful that this budget will again cement Minnesota’s status as a leader in education, and position our schools to deliver what our students need in the classroom.
Veterans Resource Fair
Today, April 10, Hibbing-Chisholm Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is hosting a Veteran Resource Fair at the Hibbing Memorial Arena from 1 – 6 p.m. Veterans are able to learn about a variety of services available including VA benefits, housing, job assistance, legal help, and more. A flyer with a full list of vendors is available here. Attendees are asked to bring DD-214 or VA ID card for faster registration.
Please continue to contact me with your ideas, input, or if I can ever be of assistance. It’s an honor to represent you.
Legislative Assistant: Josh Kilgard, 651-296-3918