People with disabilities deserve to live with dignity, with independence, and have the opportunity to thrive in their communities. In the House, we're advancing new critical investments and other policies, including my bill to expand shared services, to address the crisis created by the workforce shortage and low pay. Last night, KSTP highlighted this crisis and our work to solve this problem.
Minnesota’s students deserve every opportunity to succeed, and this budget delivers critical resources in the classroom at a time when they need them most. This week, the House passed our E-12 Education budget that delivers significant new investments in our students and schools. It focuses on literacy, mental health support, and early learning. Significantly, it invests $475 million to allow schools to hire about 1,100 more counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses, who all play a critical role in student success and development, and addresses school districts’ unfunded special education and English learner costs, known as “cross-subsidies.”
The budget also includes my legislation requiring the Minnesota Department of Education to create two school mental health services leads, with one focused on the needs of students and one focused on teachers and other school staff. On the House Floor, I shared my family's story. Losing a friend or loved one to suicide causes grief no one should be forced to experience, and this measure will help schools have the resources they need to tackle this growing problem in our communities.
We all know the challenges our schools have faced the last two years, and these investments will help ensure students can have a bright, successful future.
Public safety is on the minds of many Minnesotans, and in the House, our Public Safety and Judiciary Budget includes critical solutions and investments to stop violence, address rising crime, and provide justice for all.
Our budget invests in proven methods to enhance public safety. For example, it provides grants to improve clearance rates for homicide and nonfatal shootings by ensuring retention of investigators assigned to these cases, hire additional detectives to conduct such investigations, and hire additional evidence-processing personnel. It provides resources to recruit officers and to hire crisis response teams that include social workers or mental health providers. It provides funding for victim services programs, homelessness assistance and re-entry programs, and community programs that disrupt cycles of violence. The bill also makes bold investments in our courts, public defenders, and civil legal services – all of which have been chronically underfunded in recent years.
I’ve worked to advance several measures in the budget, including legislation allowing law enforcement to use GPS tracking technology to safely recover stolen vehicles, avoiding high-speed pursuits which put other drivers, pedestrians, and the public in danger. Earlier this week, the Minnesota Supreme Court made a ruling that exposed a loophole in Minnesota’s “peeping tom” law that allowed a man who secretly recorded a woman in her home to escape liability. I quickly reacted and offered an amendment that passed with strong bipartisan support on the House Floor. The bill also contains several other bills I chief authored this year.
This budget meets a critical moment in our state and will help keep Minnesotans safe no matter where they live or what they look like, and it protects access to justice as guaranteed under our constitution.
At the start of the pandemic, a historic number of Minnesotans relied on Unemployment Insurance. Since then, the UI Trust Fund has been depleted. At the same time, another group of workers went to their jobs, even during the pandemic’s darkest days, in order to keep our state running, even though they faced a higher exposure to COVID. The House, Senate, and Governor Walz have reached a bipartisan agreement to both deliver bonus checks to frontline workers and replenish the UI Trust Fund. This is an important compromise to both thank our frontline heroes – health care workers, first responders, child care providers, food service and retail workers, and more – for their sacrifice while helping businesses avoid a rate increase when many of them faced hardship due to no fault of their own.
You can read more about the agreement here.
Please feel free to contact me directly with your viewpoints or if I can be of assistance. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is 651-296-0141. You can learn about bills that have been introduced here and keep track of the bills I’ve authored here.
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Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.