On April 21, 2015, 10 suburban mayors signed a commentary that appeared in the Minneapolis StarTribune. We felt the content was important enough to provide the full commentary below:
Businesses in our suburban communities need to access a workforce that lives beyond the borders of their cities.
As suburban mayors, we aspire to see our cities thrive. We know that hard work and careful investment are essential to realizing those goals.
Through a challenging recession, public and private partnerships began to help our region prosper. Thanks to comprehensive planning and to the success of individual Minnesotans, our metropolitan area came roaring out of the Great Recession and is now touted as having one of the most successful regional economies in the country.
As our economy improves, our population continues to expand. By 2040, our state is projected to add more than 1 million residents, with 800,000 of those new arrivals living in the metro area. To accommodate this growth and reach our full potential, we need to make smart public investments to ensure continued private-sector success. We must invest in a first-rate (more…)
- 9 a.m. – The Minnesota House
- is in session. Member will vote on the omnibus transportation bill. It is the first major bill of the session to hit the floor for a vote.
- 9 a.m. – Move MN will outline nearly $2 billion in transportation projects proposed this legislative session by lawmakers. Projects include dozens of new interchanges and bridges; major highway expansions; and new transit lines.
- 9:30 a.m. – House DFL Leader Paul Thissen and Rep. Frank Hornstein hold a media availability to discuss the Republicans’ transportation bill.
- 10:30 a.m. – Hormel Foods will hold a groundbreaking for the new and improved Spam Museum in Austin.
- 11 a.m. – Buffers Now, a coalition of nearly 40 conservation organizations will be joined by a number of farmers from around the state as well as Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and a representative from the League of Minnesota Cities. Room 181, State Office Building, St. Paul.
- Noon – The Minnesota Senate is in session.
- 1 p.m. – Gov. Dayton holds a media availability to talk with reporters about the session.
- 2 p.m. – The Lakes Area Progressive Caucus is in the formation stages of a group and input is needed. Those interested are encouraged to attend a meeting at the Perham Public Library from 2-4 p.m.
- Sen. Franken will host his fifth annual competition to determine which member of the Minnesota Congressional Delegation makes the best hot dish.
- The charioteer figure, Prosperity, who guides the golden horses on the Minnesota State Capitol building’s Quadriga statue will return to his home atop the building. The figure will be harnessed and hoisted into place by a crane. The charioteer figure was removed in September to repair corrosion discovered at the point the figure attaches to the chariot. In addition to the corrosion repairs, the figure was also inspected for any other needed repairs and received a complete regilding.
House Republicans have unveiled a health and human services omnibus bill with a $1 billion cut in spending in programs serving seniors and our state’s most vulnerable citizens.
This is a far cry from the outrage Republicans displayed in 2013 when DFLers, faced with a $627 million budget deficit, cut $150 million from the health and human services budget.
They cannot have it both ways – criticizing DFLers for making cuts to balance a budget deficit while they are cutting $1 billion at a time when the state has a $1.9 billion budget surplus.
Highlights from the 2013 House floor debate include:
“Folks, this bill that we have before us is cutting health and human services by $150 million. Where are the priorities? How are we protecting the vulnerable citizens in this state when we’re adding 130 FTEs and sacrificing 150 million in cuts to our most vulnerable population.” -Sarah Anderson (9:05:58)
“We’ve had a long debate here today, but I have to tell you, I am stunned. Democrats are proposing one of the largest tax increases in this state’s history, and in the same breath, have the nerve to cut funding for our most vulnerable Minnesotans. There is no excuse.” – Kurt Daudt (9:06:40)
“An improved budget outlook. Three billion dollars in new taxes and fees. Increased spending in every budget area. And this is the one area that Democrats are shortchanging. This is irresponsible, and I urge a no vote.”- Kurt Daudt (09:09:25)
News articles from 2013 include:
Republican Rep. Jim Abeler of Anoka said he was shocked when he saw the budget target. Abeler chaired the House Health and Human Services Committee when the Republicans were in charge. He said he never thought Democrats would raise taxes and yet cut the human services budget.
“They’re raising billions of dollars and putting it everywhere like to the courts and environment, and those are wonderful,” Abeler said, “but there’s only one part of government where people could die and that’s in our area where the people with disabilities and health care and rural hospitals. I was just really surprised. Nobody saw that coming.”
Proposed $150 million health cuts surprise, anger lawmakers, Capitol Chatter
Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, said she does not have a problem with cuts, but this area actually needs increased funding.
Franson said, especially in greater Minnesota, hospitals and nursing homes are having trouble keeping good employees because of the pay and some people are not getting the care they need. “They are really struggling,” she said.
Rosen maintains the DFL just needs to rethink funding goals. “I think that they have so many wants and so many interests groups banging on their doors, they have lost their priority and they lost their focus, which is seniors, the vulnerable, and children.”
“The Republicans have made a choice that tax breaks for corporations and special interests are more important than educating our kids or investing in Minnesota’s future,” said House DFL Leader Paul Thissen. “These are the wrong choices for a better future for Minnesota. With a $2 billion surplus and growing economy, we should embrace this chance to create more opportunity for all Minnesotans to get ahead.
Despite a $2 billion surplus, the Republican budget plan would result in teacher layoffs, wage cuts for working Minnesotans, higher tuition, and more expensive health care coverage.
The biggest reason Minnesotans are being left behind is that Republicans are focused on a massive tax giveaway that favors corporate special interests. The largest permanent tax break in the Republican plan seeks to eliminate the statewide business property tax for all corporations and businesses. When fully phased-out, this amounts to $5 billion in corporate and business tax breaks over the next eight years.
“There’s no question the biggest long-term winner in the Republican budget is big corporations that would get billions in tax breaks,” said Thissen. “These tax cuts are incredibly short-sighted. Not only would our schools and students be shortchanged this year, they would likely pay the price down the road because the Republican plan is a recipe for budget deficits in the future.”
- 9:30 a.m. – US Attorney Andy Luger and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Thornton will hold a news conference to announce a Terrorism Task Force Operation.
- 9:30 a.m. – House GOP leaders will release their tax bill. State Office Building Room 181.
- 10 a.m. – House DFL Leaders will join Minnesotans that are being left behind by the Republican budget plan for a press conference in State Office Building Room 181. House DFL Leader Paul Thissen and deputy leaders will be joined by a teacher from Centennial High School, a server from Willmar, a MinnesotaCare enrollee from Fountain, and other Minnesotans who are being left behind by the Republican budget.
- 11 a.m. – The Minnesota House of Representatives meets in session.
- 11 a.m. – The Minnesota Senate meets in session.
- Noon – The House Tax Committee will begin hearings on the Republicans’ tax bill.
- 12:30 p.m. – The House Health and Human Services Committee will take public testimony on Omnibus Health and Human Services Finance bill (HF1638). Major reforms proposed in the bill address low medical reimbursement rates and workforce shortages in the health care industry. Provisions vary in the bill from tweaking MNsure’s board and operations to eliminating the program altogether.
- Lt. Gov. Smith will provide remarks at the American Competitiveness Exchange conference.
- April 22 – The Lakes Area Progressive Caucus is in the formation stages of a group and input is needed. Those interested are encouraged to attend a meeting at the Perham Public Library from 2-4 p.m.
- April 22 – Sen. Franken will host his fifth annual competition to determine which member of the Minnesota Congressional Delegation makes the best hot dish.
SCHOOL FUNDING. The current House Republican proposal provides less than a 1 percent increase in general aid to schools while Senate DFLers are at slightly more than 1 percent, roughly one-third of what the Governor is seeking.
COLLEGE TUITION. A two-year freeze of tuition could be in jeopardy if the higher education funding bill proposed by House Republicans is approved; Gov. Dayton and Senate DFLers are looking to extend the tuition freeze for two more years.
TRANSPORTATION. House Republicans figured out a way to fund transportation projects without a gas tax increase, relying on $767 in shifts and borrowing, which stands in stark contrast to the DFL Senate and Governor, who are looking for additional, dedicated funding.
BUFFERS. Some in the agricultural community have pushed back – hard – on the Governor’s proposal to require 50-foot buffers to protect streams from polluted runoff.
MINNESOTACARE. 100,000 working Minnesotans currently paying for health insurance through MinnesotaCare will have to find health insurance through MNsure under a plan released by Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood), Chair of the House Health Finance Committee. (In a separate bill, Rep. Dean proposes to abolish MNsure).
LANDFILLS. For the first time ever, the House Environment Committee voted to raid the state’s Closed Landfill Fund, which is designed to have funds available in the future if/when closed landfills leak, and spend the funds on other projects.
- Gov. Dayton will speak by phone with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about the state and federal responses to avian flu in Minnesota.
- Gov. Dayton and Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman will meet with Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.
- 9 a.m. – Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will participate in a trout fishing clinic, Whitewater State Park, 19041 Highway 74, Altura.
- 10 a.m. – The Minnesota House of Representatives meets in session.
- 10:15 a.m. (ET) – DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair, Ray Buckley, will hold a press conference in Nashua on the sidelines of the NHGOP’s #FITN Republican Leadership Summit to highlight the damaging impact the Republican 2016 presidential hopefuls would have on the middle class and hardworking families in the Granite State and across the country. Wasserman Schultz and Buckley will discuss the GOP field and its steadfast commitment to tired Republican policies that move the country backwards: opposing increasing the minimum wage and equal pay legislation, promoting policies that benefit the wealthiest few at the expense of the middle class, and turning back the clock on women’s health and LGBT equality. Courtyard Marriot, 2200 Southwood Dr., Nashua, NH.
- 11 a.m. – The Minnesota Senate meets in session.
- 11 a.m. – Lt. Gov. Smith will hold a media availability before going fishing on Whitewater River. Whitewater State Park, 19041 Highway 74, Altura.
- 1:20 p.m. – Lt. Gov. Smith will tour the Trout Run Conservation Area and discuss the efforts Trout Unlimited and others are making to conserve a natural trout habitat, 10452-10598 Troy Valley Drive, St. Charles.
- 2 p.m. – Sen. Susan Kent will host a press conference and take a tour of Tubman Center East, a domestic violence shelter in her district. Senator Kent is the Senate author of the bi-partisan funding bill for Crime Victims Services; funding to support victims of violent crime has been cut by 40 percent since 2001.
- 2:15 p.m. – Lt. Gov. Smith will tour the Oakenwald Bed and Breakfast and discuss the importance of tourism in southeast Minnesota, 218 Winona Street Southeast, Chatfield.
- 3:15 p.m. – Lt. Gov. Smith will visit Adourn Boutique and talk about small business development, 218 Main St. S., Chatfield.
- 6 p.m. – “Wisconsin Rising” filmmaker Sam Mayfield will be on hand for a screening of his film at the Bell Museum, 10 Church St. SE, Minneapolis. The event, part of Labor Movie Night, is free and open to the public.
- 10 a.m. – DFL African American Caucus meeting. Northeast Library, 2200 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis.
- 2 p.m. – CD 2 DFL education forum featuring Sen. Greg Clausen, Sen. Kevin Dahle, Rep. David Bly, Quentin WalthunOcama, co-president of the MYDFL, and a representative from Education Minnesota, Eagan/Apple Valley/ Rosemount Schools.
- 8 a.m. – TakeAction Minnesota and Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (MN NOC) will lead a rally on the lawn of the State Capitol calling on the Minnesota legislature to pass voting rights restoration legislation this session. Over 47,000 Minnesotans are being denied their right to vote due to being on probation or parole and bills introduced in both the House and Senate this session enjoy broad bipartisan support.
- 10 a.m. – DEED will announce the state’s unemployment rate and employment figures for March 2015.
- 11 a.m. – The Minnesota Senate meets in session.
- Noon – Rally for transportation on the lawn in front of the State Capitol. Gov. Dayton and DFL legislators will speak.
- Noon – Gov. Dayton will provide remarks at the Minnesota Wild Playoff Pep Rally at Rice Park.
- 3:30 p.m. – The Minnesota House meets in session.
- 6 p.m. – Gov. Dayton will attend Mayor Chris Coleman’s “State of the City” address at the Ordway.
Save the date
- April 18 – DFL African American Caucus meeting. 10 a.m., Northeast Library, 2200 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis.
- April 19 – DFL Environmental Caucus planning meeting. 2 – 4 p.m., Burnhaven Library, 1101 West County Rd. 42, Burnsville.
- May 16 – First membership meeting of the DFL Environmental Caucus. 1 – 4 p.m., Maplewood Library, 3025 Southlawn Drive, Maplewood.