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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL)

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Legislative Update- May 10, 2019

Friday, May 10, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
There are just two weeks remaining in the legislative session. The Minnesota House has wrapped up our work assembling our proposals for each area of the state budget. Now, joint House/Senate conference committees are charged with determining differences in each chamber’s version of the budget and ultimately, reaching a compromise.

Big Differences on Education

The House education budget includes investments to support our students inside and outside the classroom. We know when the experts in the schools - teachers, counselors, nurses, social workers and support staff - have sufficient resources our children and families will succeed. This budget ensures that students, families and communities across the state have access to resources such as mental health, housing and the community services needed to be successful in school.
The chart above compares the House budget education funding to the Senate budget funding for Anoka-Hennepin School District. As you can see, the House bill is great for Anoka-Hennepin because it will give the district $31 million in new state funding. This funding will help prevent future property tax increases and will make sure that schools in Champlin and Coon Rapids will be able to provide quality education to our kids
Meanwhile, the Senate ignores basic economics. They want a 0.5% increase in education funding, but inflation will be 1.8% in '19 and 2.0% in '20. Ignoring inflation while budgeting is like ignoring gravity while flying. You can try it, but it won't end well. The Minnesota Senate education budget would result in teacher layoffs, increased class sizes, and property tax increases. Simply unacceptable. 
The Anoka-Hennepin School District recently completed an analysis of the Senate education bill and found that it would be devastating to the district.  In particular, passage of the Senate education bill would leave Anoka-Hennepin with an $8.5 million deficit in fiscal year 2020 and a $16.7 million deficit in fiscal year 2021.  To put those numbers in context, in 2017 the voters in Anoka-Hennepin adopted an operating levy of $4 million to reduce class sizes.  That levy (and accompanying property tax increases) paid for the district to hire 50 teachers.  So the Senate education budget would have the effect of undoing the levy two times over in 2020 and four times over in 2021.  Of course, the property tax increases triggered by the levy would remain.  We can’t let that happen.

Stop Elder Abuse

Today the Minnesota House passed the Elder and Vulnerable Adults Protection Act.  The problem of elder abuse has been widely documented in the press-- one office within the Minnesota Department of Health reported a 600% increase in reports of abuse since 2010.  With Minnesota’s senior citizen population growing rapidly, this problem will only get worse.  The Elder and Vulnerable Adults Protection Act takes meaningful action to protect our seniors.  I am particularly pleased that the bill would require assisted facilities to be licensed and regulated by the state as Minnesota is currently the only state that does not license and regulate assisted living facilities.

Stay in Touch

Please continue to contact me with any questions, or to let me know how I can be of assistance.

It’s an honor to represent you at the Capitol!
Zack Stephenson