March 24, 2017
In addition to the official beginning of spring, this week also ushered in significant progress on our work to prepare the state’s operating budget, with Senate budget targets released last Friday, Targets are broad spending and revenue levels set for each committee — the amount of money each committee is allowed to spend on programs and policies under its jurisdiction. They are based, in part, on forecasted state revenue and previous budgets. Following the release of the targets, committees began work on the vetting of their respective budget proposals, which includes lengthy committee hearings and much public input.
I want to hear from you! As your state senator, it is my job to represent your interests, and your input will help guide budget decisions at every level. My contact information is below.
Tax relief proposal
Advocating for education
Education is the great equalizer. In a significant sense, education is the moral, racial, and economic issue of today. As chairwoman of the E-12 Finance Committee and as a former special education teacher, I am particularly focused on ensuring all students have the tools they need to succeed.
Early next week, we will roll out our education budget proposal. Along with passionate and talented staff, we have spent hundreds of hours pouring over every aspect of our state’s education budget, looking for ways to provide tools and opportunities to both students and teachers through funding programs that have been proven to work. We will focus state resources on providing opportunities for all Minnesota students to receive an education that prepares them for the jobs of tomorrow by using proven incentives and by promising innovation that achieve better results.
I realize the burden that is placed on local school districts because the federal government has not adequately funded many of their own mandates placed, in particular, on special education. As you can see from the graph below, funding has not kept up. As a result, school districts are left going to taxpayers to fund unmet special education needs. That’s why I am glad to have authored Senate File 2094, a bill to fully fund the special education needs of our schools.
Transportation funding proposal
I have long been an advocate of a transportation plan that funds what is necessary to travel to work, school, and home, and allows commerce to travel quickly. This week, we unveiled a comprehensive budget package that prioritizes some 8,800 miles of roads and 200 bridge repairs across our state, amounting to $3.6 billion in new spending over the next ten years. This is done without raising taxes!
Minnesota Public Radio funding
Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) is a valuable asset available to Minnesotans in all corners of the state. In addition to news coverage, MPR provides valuable public safety programming, including Amber Alerts and the Emergency Alert System, to over 3,000 listeners in my district and many more around the state. That’s why I was glad to author Senate File 1150, a bill that provides grants for upgrades to various operational and equipment expenses of MPR. I am pleased to report that the bill was included in the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee omnibus finance bill and I am hopeful it will be included in the final budget compromise later in the session.
Rochester listening session
Rochester’s strength is in its diversity. Thank you to Engaged Local Citizens, an advocacy group whose mission is to create inroads with the growing Somali community in southeastern Minnesota, for hosting a town hall forum last week. I was happy to join other area elected officials to answer questions about local, state, and federal policy, and more. It was a true honor to attend this event and to have engaging conversations with members of the Somali community. You can read the Post Bulletin’s coverage of the event here.
Prior authorization update
I am pleased to report that, after weeks of stalling, my legislation to reform prior authorization was granted a hearing in the House; it has received strong, bipartisan support in the Senate. You can read my prior writings about this here and watch my interview on Capitol Report here.
Minnesota Senate on Instagram
Follow the Minnesota Senate on instagram account today; it is regularly updated with wonderful images of our beautifully-restored Capitol building and a behind-the-scenes look at your state government.
This week’s Capitol visitors
Senator Carla Nelson
95 University Ave W
3231 Minnesota Senate Building
Saint Paul MN 55155-1206