The first two committee deadlines flew by at the legislature and we will be even busier as we approach the final committee deadline next Friday. You can see a video about committee deadlines here.
Below are some recent updates on what’s been happening at the Capitol.
Capitol Essay Contest
Lt. Governor Tina Smith and the State Capitol Grand Opening Planning Committee have announced a statewide essay contest celebrating the historic Minnesota State Capitol. Essay contest winners will be invited to share their essays as part of the State Capitol Grand Opening festivities in August. Minnesota students in grades K-12 are encouraged to submit essays explaining how the State Capitol has shaped our collective past and will impact future generations. If you would like more information for students to enter an essay in the contest, you can follow the link here for contest info.
House Budget Targets
House Republicans announced their budget targets this week; the final piece needed for committees to craft a budget for the next two years. A budget is a reflection of our values and it should focus on giving Minnesotans the opportunity they deserve to get ahead in our economy. That includes ensuring that we’re prepared for any downturns and uncertainty at the federal level. Unfortunately, the Republican budget cuts nearly $600 million from health and human services, nearly $100 million from state government and veterans, and dramatically underfunds education, all to provide more than a billion dollars in tax giveaway, including huge cuts for corporations and nothing to lower individual rates.
We’re still waiting for the budget details to get worked out, but I’ll keep advocating for a responsible budget that invests in the areas that have made Minnesota’s economy strong, like education, job training, college affordability, and infrastructure projects that will create good paying jobs.
House Transportation Plan
After releasing their budget targets Monday, we got more details on the House transportation plan on Tuesday. As you know, partisan posturing stopped a long-term transportation plan from happening in the last biennium. We have a projected funding shortfall of nearly a billion dollars a year over the next twenty years just to maintain our current infrastructure. Republicans proposed slashing transit funding and redirecting current revenue from the general fund to a special transportation fund. What this ignores is that if we ever have a funding shortfall, we’ll have to choose between cutting education, health care, or transportation.
There’s a good article in the Star Tribune summing up why this proposal is a nonstarter. It’s unfortunate that when more than half the state’s roads are more than 50 years old, and more than 40 percent of the state’s bridges are more than 40 years old Republicans’ first proposal starts with partisan posturing from extremes rather than trying to bring something forth that can win broad bipartisan approval.
Last Monday, the House passed a Republican plan to subsidize insurance companies in the hope that they will reduce premiums for people who buy their own insurance.
House Democrats have proposed two other options to provide health care coverage to a greater number of Minnesotans at a lower cost. One (HF 92) would be a public option to ‘buy-in’ to MinnesotaCare at no cost to taxpayers. The other (HF 358) is the Minnesota Health Plan which would be a universal, single payer plan. With the uncertainty at the federal level, this is the perfect opportunity for Minnesota tackle this issue.
Let me know what you think!
Please feel free to weigh in on by answering my 2017 Legislative Survey.
Don’t hesitate to contact me with any concerns or questions.
This past week I’ve had several visitors.
I appreciated a visit and message from pediatricians from Mayo. They shared heartfelt stories of the lives and struggles of youth and adolescents. They see kids in crisis who would benefit from school counselors, kids who may need to be admitted when there are not beds available. Kids who have critical disease because of misinformation or lack of money for vaccination.
I also had Rochester members of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) visit. Mental health treatment and stigma are serious issues in our society. It’s great we have people advocating all around the state to end the stigma and increase treatment.
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