Thanks to those of you who attended last week’s Aging and Long-Term Care Committee hearing in Faribault. It was an honor to welcome Chair Schomacker and other members of the committee to Faribault to hear about the needs and challenges facing nursing homes in our area.
The hearing took place at the Faribault Senior Living center where officials from the Department of Human Services as well as local long term care and nursing home administrators and employees testified in front of the committee detailing the struggles facing nursing homes in South Central Minnesota.
A common theme among testifiers was the difficulty in recruiting and maintaining staff at nursing homes and long term care facilities to care for residents.
The testimony was compelling and at times emotional as caregivers and administrators told their stories to committee members. Testifiers were happy to hear that there are a number of bills that have been introduced in the House that address many of their struggles.
Education Reform Bill Passes House
House File 2 was debated and passed by the House on Thursday. This piece of legislation is about continually improving our education system with the goal of ensuring every child receives a world class education.
Next to parental involvement, effective teaching has the greatest impact on student learning. HF 2 will give local school districts the flexibility they need to attract and retain the best teachers. HF 2 addresses these goals in the following ways:
Reforming the seniority-only policy currently in state law by requiring a locally negotiated plan for potential teacher layoffs that incorporates teacher evaluations, among other locally determined criteria. Seniority will still factor into staff retention decisions, but will no longer be the only factor.
Prohibiting the placement of students in consecutive years with an ineffective teacher, as determined through statutory teacher evaluations.
Increases access to quality teachers through out-of-state teacher license recognition, encouraging regional licensure reciprocity, streamlining alternative pathways to teaching, and reinstating other licensure options.
Empowers school districts to tap community experts to fill unmet needs to maintain or expand academic opportunities for students.
Minnesota has great teachers and an outstanding education system. In order to maintain this high level of achievement, we need to make sure that our schools make student-focused decisions by offering more flexibility to local school boards by incorporating research-based reform that ensures we’re offering all students a quality, well-rounded education.
February Budget Forecast
Last week, the Office of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released their February Forecast. This budget outlook is an important tool for legislators as they begin to craft the state’s budget.
For the current biennium, there is a $477.6 million projected balance. The projected surplus for Fiscal Years 2016-17 is $1.392 billion. Combined with what is left from Fiscal Years 2014-15, there is $1.869 billion available in the upcoming biennium.
While it is good news that our economy is improving, we need to remember that this surplus is the result of hard working Minnesota taxpayers, not government.
Furthermore, the MMB indicated that a large portion of the $1.9 billion budget surplus is the result of cheaper gas prices.
At a time when Minnesotans are finally seeing relief at the pump, now is not the time to implement a new gas tax which will increase the burden on Minnesota families.
Because government took more from hardworking taxpayers than it needs, it's important we return some of this money back to you through tax relief. With this, I am also committed to seeing that we prioritize things that matter most to Minnesotans like roads and bridges, world class educational opportunities for our children, and our nursing homes.
Staying in Touch
My bill, House File 1224, was heard before the House Education Finance Committee this week. This bill would bring much needed upgrades to computers and software at the Minnesota Academies for the Deaf and Blind. You can watch a portion of the hearing here.
Please encourage your family, friends, or co-workers to sign up for my weekly email updates. They can sign up by visiting my official House page.
As always, do not hesitate to contact me to discuss any questions, comments, or concerns you may have regarding the legislature. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-8237 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stay connected with me by visiting my Facebook page and my Twitter account.