Rep. Debra Hilstrom (40B) – Legislative Update
Wednesday night I spoke with students and faculty at the University of Minnesota as part of the Summit on College Affordability. Tuition hikes in recent years at the University have been difficult on students. Inadequate state investments in higher education over the last decade and a half have led to a staggering 177 percent increase at the University of Minnesota between 2000 and 2011. 2013 and 2014 the state implemented a two year freeze on undergraduate resident tuition at the U of M and Minnesota State campuses. However with record tuition increases students have record debt. We must commit to making college more affordable and reducing student debt burdens if we want to have a world class work force and enable the next generation to succeed.
The Minnesota Daily covered the event, and you can read their story here.
The February Economic Forecast was released this week and shows Minnesota will have a $1.65 billion surplus. It also showed that overall, our economy is doing well, with a stable budget and low unemployment. Not all Minnesotans are doing well. More needs to be done to ensure everyone can succeed in our state. We must expanded opportunities for all Minnesota. There are proposals to fund pre-K, K-12 and to make college more affordable. We must ensure access to quality health care, and improve transportation, including roads, bridges, and transit. The goal is to benefit working families across the entire state. We must make strategic investments in opportunities for regular Minnesotans to experience sustained economic success and prosperity.
Preemption of Benefits
Last night, the Minnesota House passed a bill stopping cities and counties from passing pro-worker local ordinances such as a higher minimum wage, earned sick and safe time, or paid family leave. The state legislature has had years to act but failed to do so. The workers organized in local communities and Minneapolis and St. Paul passed earned sick and safe time measures.
The bill passed by the GOP in the Minnesota House last night takes the benefits away from over 150,000 of these workers that are expecting them. These workers are disproportionately women and people of color. This bill also removes local control from city councils who know what’s best for their community. I will continue to work to expand workers benefits across the state, and not take them away.
Twenty-five years ago, MinnesotaCare was created by a bipartisan coalition of legislators and signed into law by a Republican governor. The program has allowed 100,000 Minnesotans to purchase high-quality, lower cost health care coverage. Governor Dayton is proposing to expand the program by giving those who purchase their insurance on the individual insurance market the opportunity to ‘buy-into’ MinnesotaCare. Participants in the program would pay their own way.
In addition, MinnesotaCare includes a broad network of care providers and physicians all across the state which would enable families the option of choosing and keeping their own doctors.
With our work this session to increase access to affordable healthcare, this plan is one avenue to provide affordable health care options to thousands of Minnesotans.
As the pace of business at the legislature is picking up, please keep in touch with your concerns, questions, and ideas. I value your input, and invite you to email me or call me any time.