Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Friday, June 12, the legislature held a special session after state leaders and Governor Dayton agreed to a negotiated budget. I am disappointed that the governor forced us into a special session by vetoing three bipartisan budget bills late last month, but I am pleased we have now finished our work because that is what Minnesotans expect us to do.
First, we repassed an education bill which invests $525 million more into our schools and places 2 percent on the student per pupil formula for 2016 and 2017. What's more, this legislation also expands school choice for parents with targeted investments in early learning scholarships. It’s also important to note that all of the Republican-led reforms included in our vetoed omnibus bill are still in this legislation including streamlining the licensure process for out-of-state educators and reduced testing to free up more time for classroom learning.
The education bill, which passed 115-10 in the House, includes a $404 per pupil funding increase for the Cambridge-Isanti School District.
A jobs and energy bill also repassed the House on Friday which includes $1.8 million to help alleviate traffic congestion for the city of Cambridge along the Highway 95 Corridor. I worked hard to advance this funding for our district this session and am pleased it was included in the final legislation. Also noteworthy, this omnibus bill saves taxpayers money—spending $24 million less than last biennium.
Next, the agriculture and environment bill repassed in the House and includes funding to combat avian flu which has devastated the poultry industry in our state. There are also significant reforms to the MPCA and DNR which will help Greater Minnesota. Finally, there is increased funding for Soil and Water Conservation Districts to fund more on the ground projects, helping keep local control over local projects.
In addition to the above three bills which were vetoed by Governor Dayton, the legislature also took up the legacy bill and a bonding bill. The bonding bill focuses on critical statewide needs including emergency funding for avian flu, wastewater treatment facility improvements, roads and bridges, flood prevention, and disaster relief.
Overall, I am proud of the bipartisan work we did this session on behalf of the people of our state, and am glad that we were able to wrap up outstanding disagreements with the governor to implement common sense reforms and invest in Greater Minnesota priorities. We stopped an unpopular gas tax, invested in our kids and increased government oversight and efficiencies, protecting the interests of hardworking taxpayers.
As always, if you have any questions or comments on legislative issues, I welcome you to contact my office.
Have a wonderful week.