Neighbors and Friends,
Our third committee deadline is today and there’s been a flurry of activity in committees and on the House floor this week. Many visitors from the Rochester area have also been stopping in to discuss various issues. Here’s an update from my week at the Capitol:
House Omnibus Bills
The House took up the Omnibus Tax and Environment bills yesterday and we’ll be taking up the Omnibus Education and Transportation bills today. These bills fund specific issue areas of our state’s budget.
Yesterday, the House took up the Omnibus Tax bill. Unfortunately, House Republicans are prioritizing big tax cuts for businesses and the rich instead of most Minnesotans. Benefiting millionaires, the tax bill includes a $161.7 million estate tax cut for the wealthiest Minnesotans. The bill also includes property tax cuts for corporations and businesses instead of homeowners and renters.
Instead of this approach, my view is we should put Minnesotans first with targeted tax cuts that make taxes fairer for everyone in order to improve economic opportunities in Rochester and every corner of the state.
Despite a budget surplus, The Omnibus Environment bill cuts millions from funding that protects Minnesota’s air, water and outdoor spaces. Minnesota is lucky to have abundant natural resources, but we can’t take them for granted. Instead, we should be investing to maintain our environmental resources for the next generation of Minnesotans.
Today, the House is expected to take up the Omnibus Transportation bill. The proposal fails to invest in Minnesota’s transportation needs now and into the future, inadequately addressing the need for long-term investment in roads and bridges. It also creates road blocks to fully funding light rail and bus lines. The bill pits the Metro against Greater Minnesota, failing to take a “One Minnesota” approach to invest in transportation statewide. Neglecting Minnesota’s transportation needs is unsafe and will cost Minnesotans more money in the long run. That’s why I’m advocating for a long-term, sustainable solution that improves Minnesota’s roads, bridges and transit.
The Omnibus Education bill is also expected on the Floor today. The education bill would underfund our schools likely amounting to cuts that could result in teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and fewer resources for our kids. The bill also eliminates the voluntary pre-K program and phases out its funding, hurting Minnesota’s youngest learners.
I believe our top priority should be providing a quality education for all Minnesota kids, but unfortunately, this bill will make it harder for them to succeed. Education has made Minnesota a leader, but we won’t continue to lead with cuts to our kids’ futures.
Land-Grant Legacy Scholarships
Legislators received a letter from University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler announcing the Land-Grant Legacy Scholarship, a new initiative to attract and retain more students from Greater Minnesota. It’s funded through private donations.
According to the U of MN, the new effort will launch beginning in fall 2017 with the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) on the Twin Cities campus. Over the next four years, the scholarship will provide students $5,000 each year for four years. When fully implemented, the effort will support 100 students annually.
If you would like more information on the scholarship, please see the full release.
Contact me with any questions or concerns.
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