As mentioned in last week’s update, the Governor released his budget proposal last Tuesday. The Governor presented a long list of items he would like to see funded, some with merit and some not. After reviewing the Governor’s proposal I was drawn particularly to his “free” universal pre-Kindergarten proposal.
While the Governor’s proposal is universal, it is underfunded. His proposal will put a large burden on our schools forcing them to provide these services to families without the funds needed to carry out its objective. Economically this is not feasible as school staff as well as our public school building are not prepared financially or logistically for such a massive undertaking.
I haven't seen convincing evidence that the Governor’s pre-Kindergarten plan is the most effective way to educate our young children. Additionally, as I've talked to constituents over the past several months, I am hearing that with the limited resources our state has, we should be prioritizing funding for nursing homes and long-term care.
I am hopeful that the Governor will reassess this plan and work with the legislature to find ways that make child care and preschool access easier for families without the putting private child care and preschool providers at risk.
Governor Appointees Receive Pay Increases
WCCO reported yesterday that Governor Dayton approved a massive pay increase for members of his cabinet and other political appointees. In total, the salary increases may end up costing the state more than $1.4 million dollars. The Governor was able to increase the salary for these commissioner without legislative approval thanks to a bill that the DFL led majority passed in 2013.
The largest increase was for the chair of the Met Council. This individual received a pay increase of more than $80,000. The dramatic increase in his pay was due to this position being moved from a part time to a full time commitment. Other commissioners saw increases as much as $35,000 a year.
It is unfortunate that the Governor has chosen to increase pay for members of his cabinet, especially when so many of the agencies that these commissioners oversee are seeking additional funding and cutting their budgets due to poor management.
Agriculture Policy Committee
I was honored to preside as chair over the Agricultural Policy Committee hearing this past Wednesday. As Vice Chair, I am committed to working with other lawmakers and farmers to ensure that we reduce the burden on our farmers in an effort to help them flourish.
There will be no constituent coffee this week as I have a scheduling conflict. I am looking forward to having more of these as session progresses so please keep an eye out for announcements for our next meeting date.
As always, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at Rep.Mary.Franson@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-3201. You can also send mail to my office address: 517 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.