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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL)

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Legislative Update - May 16, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dear Neighbors,

We are in the final stretch of the legislative session and must adjourn by midnight on Monday, May 18 in order to avoid a special session. We passed a resolution for conference committees to meet past midnight and I am sure we will be voting to allow the House floor session to work around the clock as well. It is frustrating that it comes down to the wire like this but seems to every year. I am hopeful that we will get done on time, and have been disappointed with the House Republican Majority’s reluctance to negotiate with Governor Dayton—particularly for education funding.

Last night, House Republican and Senate DFL leaders reached an agreement on shared conference committee budget targets. These targets are the amount that the committee can spend above the base decided in the February budget forecast. The leaders release their conference targets in the spreadsheet linked here. These targets leave about $1 billion on the bottom line. The leaders have told the press that this money would be used to pass a tax and transportation bill next year, since agreement can’t be reached on one this year. It is hard to believe that there is not enough political will, with a surplus, to finally get a long-term approach to transportation as well as pass some tax cuts for the middle-class. It is even more inexcusable that we would underfund education and trigger cuts while we leave one billion on the bottom line.

Earlier today, I joined many colleagues in signing a letter to Governor Dayton in support of his call for significant investments in E-12 Education. You can read the letter here.

With a $2 billion budget surplus, we have a unique opportunity to build on the progress we made together and make further investments in our kids and their schools. Unfortunately, the $400 million E-12 budget target announced by the Senate and House yesterday is insufficient to make the kinds of investments that are needed. For that reason, I support Governor Dayton’s call for at least $550 million in this area, which would allow us to both invest in our schools and in early childhood education in the form of scholarships and school readiness as well as looking at some sort of pre-kindergarten program.

Now is the time to set the right priorities for Minnesota’s future, and I believe our kids should be our top priority.

By the end of next week, when the dust settles, I will be able to send you a more complete recap of what was accomplished this session. In the meantime, during the long floor sessions this weekend, if you have any questions the best way to get a hold of me is by e-mail.

Have a nice weekend,

Cheryl Youakim

State Representative