This Monday, we gaveled into special session to pass our state budget. Since the regular session ended we have continued to work hard to find common ground on outstanding issues so that we can pass our state budget for the coming two years. To that end, as I send this e-update, I am on the House floor to take up our Commerce and Energy omnibus bill. We hope to also take our Higher Education, Legacy and Agriculture budget bills as well. As we debate these final bills, I will provide updates on key provisions and welcome your input and questions.
While there are still contentious issues to be hashed out in areas like police accountability and public safety, I’m confident we’ll be able to come together and pass a budget that will help Minnesota bounce back from the past year.
All Minnesota families deserve a world-class education, no matter where they live or what they look like. Our Higher Education bill makes investments to ensure Minnesota students can recover from the unprecedented challenges they’ve faced over the past year, and that they are also ready to thrive as they move forward in the post-pandemic workforce, including key funding for the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State systems, as well as an increase to the State Grant program that will positively impact more than 75,000 students.
Agriculture and Broadband
The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly challenging for farmers and food producers, which only compounded many other difficulties they’ve experienced in recent years. They deserve tools, support, and resources so they can not only recover from the past year’s difficulties, but succeed well into the future. The compromise agriculture budget recognizes the value Minnesotans place on clean water, soil, and air, and looks to the future of farming in Minnesota. The budget invests in emerging farmer outreach, urban and youth agriculture, the Farm-to-School initiative, Good Food Access, and funding for environmentally-friendly production practices and conservation techniques.
Climate and Energy
As one of the fastest warming states in the country, Minnesota is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. We must take action to protect our health, our environment, our farms, and our infrastructure. The Energy budget invests in a Clean Energy Training Center in North Minneapolis, a new Energy Transition Office, and innovative projects and research that will help Minnesota transition to clean energy. We also secured funding to install solar energy panels on schools, saving school districts money while providing educational opportunities for students.
The final Commerce budget tackles the record-high catalytic converter theft problem with a series of reforms to deter theft and keep Minnesotans’ cars intact. In addition, our budget contains the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights, which gives students a fighting chance against the worst lending practices.
An Off-Ramp to the Eviction Moratorium
One recent area of breakthrough in negotiations was an off-ramp for our current eviction moratorium. Last week, I joined my DFL colleagues, Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse, and a coalition of housing advocates including renters and landlords to push for an orderly end to Governor Walz’s halt on evictions that doesn’t leave Minnesotans without a home. I’m excited to share that our voices were heard.