Town Hall Meetings
Thanks to everyone that attended my town hall meetings over the last two weeks, it was great to hear your ideas and questions. Over 100 citizens joined us for meetings in Braham, North Branch and Cambridge.
Equitable School Funding
I am proud to sign on as a co-author of HF755, the Bridge to Equity in Education bill sponsored by Rep. Bob Barrett. The bill provides equitable financial support to low-funded schools and would help level the playing field for the North Branch, Chisago Lakes and Forest Lake school districts and others that currently receive below-average per pupil funding. The current, inequitable K-12 funding formula sends $13,000-$14,000 per student in Minneapolis/St. Paul/Minnetonka schools and only $8,500 per student in Chisago County and $8,000 per student in North Branch. All students, teachers and schools deserve the same opportunities regardless of their zip code.
My legislative issue survey will be mailed to many of you in the coming weeks. I hope to receive your feedback by either mailing back the survey to my office or by completing the survey online. You will be able to access my survey on my legislative web page starting next week (www.house.mn/32A).
Reducing Wildfire Arson
On Monday my bipartisan legislation to help aid the prosecution of wildfire arsonists was presented in the House Public Safety Committee and passed. Thank you to Judge Doug Meslow and Isanti County Assistant Attorney Bob Bieniek for working with me to craft the bill and for attending the hearing with me.
Committee Hearing on HF228 Monday, Feb. 25
Meetings in St. Paul
Thank you to representatives from the SEIU and MN Athletic Trainers for visiting with me this last week. I also met with:
MN School Food Association
Healthcare workers for Health Day on the Hill
MN Association of Deer Hunters for their banquet event
Restaurant owners for MN Hospitality Day on the Hill
Members of MN Farm Bureau
Meeting with Farm Bureau Members on Feb. 27
Dayton Tax Plan Hearing Wednesday Night
Wednesday evening (Feb. 27) the House Taxes Committee is hearing the Governor's tax bill (HF677). This includes new business-to-business taxes, expanded sales taxes, and new income and transit taxes. Public testimony will be taken, and I encourage you to attend if you have concerns with the bill. Reps. Davids and Runbeck are organizing a pre-meeting for any business people who may be interested in testifying at the hearing.
Interested citizens, particularly business owners, are invited to a pre-hearing meeting on Wed., Feb 27 at 6pm, State Office Building, Room 272. We'll have some legislators there to speak. The hearing itself begins promptly at 7pm in Room 10 and could go as long as midnight, to accommodate everyone who wants to be heard. This will be the only public testimony taken on the Governor's proposal in the House. If you want to testify, contact the House Taxes CA, Emily Jensen at 651-296-5528 or email@example.com.
Governor’s K12 Education Budget
A House committee last week reviewed the details of Gov. Mark Dayton's proposed K-12 budget for the next biennium. His bill would increase school spending by $344 million over the next two years with a $52 increase to the per-pupil funding formula. Dayton's proposal does not pay back $1.1 billion in delayed K-12 payments until 2017. It also does not provide contingency plans if sequestration – across-the-board federal budget cuts that may go into effect March 1 – takes place as many expect. The governor's plan does nothing to ensure results and also fails to even out funding inequities or close our broad achievement gap. Instead, Dayton's proposal focuses on unfunded mandates and bureaucracies, including the creation of a new "school climate center" and new "regional centers" for the Dept. of Education.
Thank you for the honor of being your state representative.