I hope you had a great weekend. It’s another busy week as we continue passing supplemental budget bills on various subjects. We will then meet with the Senate in conference committees to hash out the differences and meet somewhere in the middle.
Governor Walz has signed the Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Frontline Worker bill into law. This bill provides $500 million for Frontline Worker Pay to frontline workers who have sacrificed during the pandemic to keep Minnesotans safe, healthy, and fed. Eligible workers include those from the health care, child care, school, food service, public transit, long-term care, building service, emergency response, retail, and manufacturing sectors. You can find more information here. They are currently working on the online application system. When the system is ready to accept applications, eligible workers will have 45 days to apply for Frontline Worker Pay.
Replenishing the UI Trust Fund at $2.73 billion will ensure UI benefits are available to workers in the future and that businesses across the state are held harmless from the effects of the pandemic. About 130,000 businesses will be protected from a massive tax increase with the passing of this bill – with the total amount of relief provided to businesses coming totaling around $200 million for the first quarter of 2022.
Last week, we advanced a supplemental education budget plan to deliver over $3 billion worth of new investments to support students, families, public schools, and school staff across the state.
The bill addresses the more than $700 million funding shortfall for special education services, as well as the nearly $150 million deficit in English Language Learner services. The proposal provides more than $500 million annually over the next three years to reduce the amount school districts pay to make up for these shortfalls, reducing the special education “cross-subsidy” by over 55%, and would eliminate the English Language Learner cross-subsidy by 2026.
If passed into law, Independent School District 196 would receive an additional $762 in 2023 in aid per student. Our school district shouldn’t have to dig out of debt to pay for the educational services our students with disabilities or who need assistance learning English depend on.
The bill includes a focus on literacy and overall academic success, including the BOLD literacy package and funding for Math Corps. The bill’s mental health package, totaling $475 million, will address the shortages of school support personnel that benefit students’ social, emotional, and physical health, and fund wrap-around services for students. The legislation provides dedicated funds to support hiring around 1,100 student support personnel so that students have greater access to school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses.
Last week we celebrated the official groundbreaking of the Treetop Trail! This elevated walking path will be the longest of its kind. Offering new and nostalgic views, this path will run the same course as the previous monorail. It's wonderful to see the project finally getting underway, which will help expand accessibility and create more opportunities for all Zoo visitors. Construction is slated to be finished in summer of 2023.
On Friday the DFL house passed a public safety bill of almost 300 million. This will help give support to our local and state law enforcement. All of us deserve to be safe; our residents as well as the women and men of law enforcement that help us sleep better at night. The bill also helps us protect our firefighters and EMTs.
The package invests $200 million in proven, transformative, and innovative solutions that work to help Minnesota tackle some of the largest challenges to keeping people and communities safe. This bill also takes the necessary step of adequately funding critical justice system services for the first time in decades with $140 million in new investments.
Our firefighters are a critical component to our public safety team in Minnesota, which is why I'm so glad to see the governor sign legislation I co-authored that extends the Hometown Heroes Assistance Program.
This new, bipartisan program is the most comprehensive in the nation of its kind, providing firefighters with free access to emotional trauma resources, up to $20,000 from critical illness insurance policies, and ongoing health and wellness training, including evidence-based suicide prevention strategies.
It's about giving back to the selfless heroes who work hard to protect us every day by making sure they have ongoing access to health, trauma, and cancer assistance and resources.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4306 with questions or input. I’m always happy to see how I can help.
Have a great rest of the week.