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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL)

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Legislative Update - April 29, 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dear Neighbors:

This week, the House finalized the Republican majority's supplemental budget bills. Details below, but first a reminder about tomorrow's office hours.

Chat with Dave (April 30)

I'll be holding office hours again tomorrow (Saturday, April 30), 10:00am to 11:00am. This session will be at Edgcumbe Rec Center, 320 Griggs St. Stop by for informal conversations about the legislative session and legislative priorities for you and your family. Please click here for more information.

Budget Bills - Missed Opportunities

I've previously noted the harm of the budget targets issued by the House majority. This week on the House floor, we saw the "omnibus bills" - a collection of measures on a wide variety of topics - resulting from those targets.

On Monday, the House passed the majority's omnibus education bill. I've heard recently from many constituents who are concerned about budget cuts in our local schools. It's important to note that state funding - when measured per-pupil in real, inflation-adjusted terms - has been steadily dropping for years, even decades. Even last year, the increase in state funding for the current biennium didn't keep pace with inflation plus pupil growth. Unfortunately, the bill we heard on Monday wouldn't do anything to help, nor would it help address the parallel pattern for higher education. Despite a $900 million state budget surplus, both E-12 education and higher education received budget targets from the majority of $0.

On Wednesday, the House passed the majority's omnibus bill addressing the environment, agriculture, jobs, housing, and energy. The budget targets for these areas varies from cuts to small increases, but in general the bill continues the pattern of missed opportunities, most notably with respect to clean power, environmental protection, broadband for our greater Minnesota neighbors, and racial disparities (see below).

Yesterday, the House passed yet another "super-omnibus" bill from the majority, this one on health, human services, state government finance, and public safety. Again, health & human services received a $0 budget target, and state government finance and public safety were targeted for cuts. In addition to defunding Planned Parenthood and ending Minnesota's health-care exchange MNsure (among many other harms), this bill too misses many opportunities, including support for families struggling with child care, support for home and community-based health workers, and action against gun violence, and much more.

Not only are these bills wrong for Minnesota, they show no willingness by the House majority to compromise with the Senate and Governor. And they still leave transportation, taxes, and capital investment (bonding) as open items, with no real action so far this session. The legislative session is constitutionally mandated to end on May 23. We'll need to see some sense of compromise from the majority soon.

Racial Economic Disparities

Our state has some of the biggest racial disparities - in employment, education, health, criminal justice, and more - in the country. I've been active addressing disparities in prenatal care and early childhood development. This week I joined my DFL colleagues in urging action to address economic disparities, which have reached a crisis level; among other stunning statistics, the median income for black households recently fell 14 percent in just one year. We called on the House majority to invest at least $50 million of the $900 million surplus to this cause. Governor Dayton has proposed a $100 million investment while the Senate DFL has proposed $91 million. As in other areas, the House majority's budget targets dedicate $0 to racial economic disparities.

You can always follow along by checking House Public Information’s House Session Daily for more updates on a variety of topics. I'll continue to work to keep you updated in these tight closing weeks of the session.

Dave Pinto
State Representative, District 64B
321 State Office Building
(651) 296-4199