There are now just over two weeks until the end of the legislative session on Monday, May 22. The Republican majorities in the House & Senate have finalized their budget proposals to fund state agencies. Governor Dayton has been actively engaged with them, specifying parameters for his budget preferences and detailing items that are not acceptable (see this letter listing all of the contacts between the governor’s staff and legislators).
For the reasons discussed below and in my previous update, I view the majority's budget proposals as deeply irresponsible, especially in a time of surplus. Please consider these proposals yourself and then share your views with Speaker Daudt (email@example.com and 651-296-5364) and Senate Leader Gazelka (firstname.lastname@example.org and 651-296-4875), and encourage your friends and family to contact their own legislators - and these leaders - as well.
Chat with Dave - This Sunday
A reminder that the last "Chat with Dave" of the legislative session will be this coming Sunday, May 7, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Highland Park Library, 1974 Ford Parkway. Please join us for an informal conversation with neighbors.
Majority Budget Bills
My previous update discussed some of my concerns with the majority's bills relating to E-12 Education, Transportation, Environment & Natural Resources, andTaxes. New condemnations of these bills appear almost hourly - check out today's Star Tribune editorial on transit. The Public Safety bill is so concerning that even Chief Justice Gildea weighed in, calling it a "failure to prioritize public safety and the justice system."
Every Minnesotan deserves the opportunity to get a post-secondary education and compete in the global economy, without being saddled with student debt. The majority's budget - which is nearly $200 million less than the Governor requested - will lead to program cuts, staff layoffs, increased tuition (up to 5% per year at the U of M) and skyrocketing student debt. St. Paul College would receive barely one-third of its budget request. My colleague Rep. Gene Pelowski, an expert on higher ed finance, wrote an article amplifying these points.
Jobs & Energy
The majority's budget underfunds broadband, cuts jobs programs, and eliminates our state trade offices. It rolls back our progress on renewable energy and the fight against climate change, eliminating the Renewable Development Fund, reducing the solar mandate for huge energy companies, and deregulating oil and natural gas pipelines. It removes century-old consumer protections that are protecting phone and internet users. It abandons Minnesota's promise to fix racial economic disparities, zeroing out funding for initiatives in this area which were passed just last year. I've previously discussed my concerns with the provision on preemption. And finally, it allows internet companies to sell Minnesotans' data to the highest bidder.
The majority's budget takes a "meat cleaver" approach to state government - imposing an arbitrary percentage of cuts - which would result in the layoff of thousands of public employees and sharply reduce the quality of public services. It would endanger our environment, by shifting the establishment of regulations from scientists at state agencies to politicians - many of whom don't believe in climate change and take contributions from the fossil-fuel industry. Finally, it would put our state's cyber security at risk, with NO funding for the Governor's cyber security initiatives.
Health & Human Services
Despite federal uncertainty surrounding health care, as well as growing needs such as increased childcare access and wages for home care workers, the majority's budget would cut $482 MILLION from services to many of our most vulnerable populations. It seems to go out of its way to provide health coverage to fewer Minnesotans. It would eliminate MNsure completely and provide giveaways to big insurance companies. Please check out my floor remarks on this budget - which served to summarize ALL of the budget bills - here:
Look for action alerts and more updates in these final two weeks. And thank you for the honor of serving our community,
State Representative, District 64B
321 State Office Building