Hello Friends and Neighbors,
Best of luck to the area wrestlers competing in the state tournament this weekend! It’s exciting to see area athletes having success and representing our community well.
The session has started off with the usual fast pace, but with added intensity in these first two weeks as we address some complex issues like the opioid crisis, school safety, and the frustration of steps to fix MNLARS. First I want to share good news regarding the state budget forecast.
State Budget Forecast
On Wednesday, Minnesota Management & Budget announced a $329 million state budget surplus. This surplus is an over half-billion dollar improvement from the $188 million budget deficit projected by the agency in November. These numbers demonstrate the strength of Minnesota’s economy after being bolstered by recent tax cuts at the state and federal level. Given this surplus, I will seek to advocate for legislation that will provide further tax relief to the taxpayers of Minnesota as well as prioritize targeted investments in needed areas.
There were two important bills introduced by House Republicans this week regarding the broken MNLARS system that so many of you have experienced complications with firsthand. The first bill would require Governor Dayton to find the $10 million (that his administration has requested to continue fixing MNLARS) in existing state agency funding, rather than force Minnesota’s taxpayers to foot the bill once again. The other bill would direct the Commissioner of Public Safety to examine using a private company to overhaul MNLARS, instead of turning to the same government agency that has repeatedly failed to provide meaningful solutions to these ongoing problems. Minnesotans deserve a working DMV system. Our goal is to hold this administration accountable for its shortcomings, and make certain the agency provides strong assurances and detailed plans before we provide additional funding.
I have been working with our policy and research staffs on school security practices and funding. I’ve also reached out to our area superintendents and police chiefs this week to get their insights and ideas. In conjunction with my colleagues, I will be working on proposals to help our schools, and this week we heard some of those in the Education Finance Committee and Public Safety Committees. The Education Innovation Policy Committee, on which I serve, will consider student safety legislation as well.
My first priority is to focus on what we can do to ensure the safety of all of our children at school.
Yesterday, the Second Annual Opioid Awareness Day took place at the Capitol. Raising awareness of the greater action required to fight our state’s devastating opioid crisis was the objective of the day’s events. More can be done in the legislature to combat this growing problem, and I will be working with my colleagues to put forward meaningful solutions.
Congratulations to Minnesota native Jessie Diggins on winning a Gold Medal at the Winter Olympics in Cross Country Skiing! In addition to winning the Gold, she also had the honor of being selected by her Team USA teammates to carry the American Flag at the games’ closing ceremonies. Jessie is the daughter of Deb and Clay Diggins, owners of the Red Wing Slumberland Furniture store.
National Eagle Center Day at the Capitol
Next Wednesday, March 7th, is National Eagle Center Day at the Capitol. There will be events taking place in the Capitol Rotunda from 1:30pm-3:30pm, a rally happening at 2:00pm, and an opportunity to have photos taken with a live bald eagle. I hope to see many of you there as we gather in support of the National Eagle Center in Wabasha.
Staying in Touch:
If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding anything related to state government, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or 651-296-8635.