There’s a lot going on at the Capitol. As I mentioned in my last update the major budget bills are in conference committee. Now we’ve seen the House and Senate leadership release their joint budget targets and it’s not good for Rochester.
The joint numbers released this week are not good for Rochester Community and Technical College. Instead of working with the Governor to stop tuition increases, the legislative majorities are proposing nearly $200 million less for higher education than what Governor Dayton had sought and hundreds of millions less than Minnesota State and the U of MN requested. RCTC will be cut $2,118,000 from their requested budget. That’s not just going to result in tuition increases and program cuts; it’s going to mean layoffs. I’m astonished that in a time of surplus we would underfund higher education, which we all know is how we compete in a global economy.
Infrastructure and Jobs
In last week’s update I mentioned the immense need for a “bonding” infrastructure and jobs bill and the fact that one hadn’t been put forward yet. With less than three weeks left in the legislative session the House Republicans finally released their bonding proposal. It’s clear they’re using it as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the Governor due to its small size and lack of projects.
This bill should fund projects all across Minnesota, including those in Rochester. Unfortunately, it fails to fund vital infrastructure projects in our area, including at RCTC. We all know the Plaza and Memorial Halls at RCTC continue to deteriorate as snow, rain and the elements penetrate the exterior. We can’t stand by and watch our vital public infrastructure disintegrate while this bill is held hostage.
You can see my remarks about the strategic need for many projects in our area below:
Sustainable Transportation and Transit
Yesterday I joined my DFL colleagues in a press conference to discuss the need for a comprehensive transportation bill that doesn’t underfund transit. All of us living and working in Rochester know how important transit is for people to get to school, work, the library and especially their health care providers. My own mother no longer drives and is dependent on transit to access many things. There’s a narrative at the legislature that it’s the metro vs the rest of the state. I don’t buy that. I believe in the old adage that “we all do better when we all do better.” You can see my remarks about that in the video below:
Budgeting is values based
Budgeting and how you go about it is about values. There’s a balance between how much you spend to cut taxes and for whom vs. how much you invest in education, public infrastructure or programs that support job creation. While a lot of this is driven by partisan politics and coming to the center from the extremes, I don’t think it has to be that partisan, nor should it hold the things we care about hostage to extract political concessions. I’ll continue to push for fair and bipartisan end to the session, but it’s important you weigh in too. Call the legislative leaders and tell them you want us to fund pre-k, college education, and vital infrastructure projects:
House Speaker Kurt Daudt: 651-296-5364
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka: 651-296-4875
And our State Senator David Senjem 651-296-3903
As always, it’s an honor to be your voice at the State Capitol. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any issues or concerns you may have.