Hello from St. Paul,
This week, the House majority began bringing its budget spending bills to the House floor for a full debate. Here is an overview:
LEGACY BILL APPROVED
The Legacy proposal appropriates revenue raised by a three-eighths of one percent additional sales tax that was passed by Minnesota voters in the 2008 Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. Tax revenue is distributed into four funds as follows: 33 percent to the Clean Water Fund; 33 percent to the Outdoor Heritage Fund; 19.75 percent to the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund; and 14.25 percent to the Parks and Trails Fund. In all, the proposal spends $821 million. It was approved by a 69-59 vote.
HIGHER EDUCATION SPENDNG BILL PASSES HOUSE
A bill that funds the Office of Higher Education (OHE), Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the University of Minnesota, the Mayo Foundation and the State Grant Program was approved on Wednesday. If signed into law, the House majority’s Higher Education finance plan would increase program spending by 18.5% in the next biennium. Part of the concern with this plan is that universities across the state are experiencing 6-7% drop in enrollment, yet funding would increase by $650 million. This would suggest that the money is being used to fund systems rather than students.
TOUR OF CENTRAL PART OF THE DISTRICT LAST WEEK
During the time away from the Capitol last week to observe Easter and Passover, I spent Wednesday visiting with folks in the central part of our district.
It started by meeting with Justine Wettscreck with the Murray County Economic Development Authority and County Commissioner Dennis Welgraven to discuss solutions that open up federal dollars the county currently has but can't spend. I continued in Slayton, as City Administrator Josh Malchow's guest at Kiwanis to give a legislative update and speak afterwards with Commissioner Molly Malone and Lynn Johnson and Operation Prairie Venture about the efforts to get a senior care center back up in Slayton.
That afternoon, I headed to Adrian and met with District Superintendent Molly Schilling to discuss legislative proposals moving forward this year and what impact they'll have on the school district. I followed that up with dropping into the Nobles County Review to visit with Sharon Jones about what she's hearing out in the community. I then met with Sarah Lenz and Cindy Wolf to learn more about their operating status with the Adrian Ambulance service. We also discussed ways to recruit more volunteer EMS and EMTs.
The tour wrapped up in Ellsworth with supper at Mickeys and a couple hours visiting with constituents there and around the area to hear what's on their minds. Outside of specific policy and funding topics, the overwhelming topic brought up everywhere I went was the lack of workforce.
In all, it was a great day to get out of the bubble of the Capitol and listen to a number of constituents with expertise in their areas that I could learn from.
Have a good weekend,