Evaluating the GOP Transportation Budget
Senate Republicans released their budget targets a week ago – which means everyone from the press to DFL senators and the public took time to pour over the numbers throughout the week.
The most startling observation comes from the transport budget, where a provision was included that barred any locality from funding a light rail project without legislative approval. The budget also completely removes any state investment in ongoing LRT costs. These provisons would effectively kill all light rail routes for as long as the GOP controls a single chamber in the legislature. Even if we could begin construction on Southwest LRT before enactment, localities could spend their own money on staffing and maintenance even if they could afford it.
The transportation budget still has two more committees to stop at before it hits the floor: Taxes and Finance. Next week’s floor session is expected to be lengthier, and I fully intend to support amendments that would remove any language that is designed to kill Southwest Light Rail.
EPHS Alums Abound at the Capitol
I saw lots of former students at the capitol this week. On Wednesday, in the span of just ten minutes, I ran into 3 former students of mine just by pure happenstance.
I was on my way to an event hosted by the Boys and Girls Clubs, when I ran into Jamie Swezey, who is now a legislative assistant in the Minnesota House.
Then, when I got to the event I saw Nate Mussell in his role as a lobbyist representing the Boys and Girls Clubs.
To top it all off, at the event I also saw Carryn Schram, who works for the Boys and Girls Clubs and helped set up the great event that made this all happen!
On Tuesday I also saw Jackie Campbell, another former student, who was here for pediatrics day at the capitol. This was truly an amazing week.
Getting Youth Engaged in Government
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to present another bill of mine before the Legacy Committee. The bipartisan legislation would appropriate $200,000 from the Legacy Fund for each of the next two years towards civic education grants. The grants would be disbursed between members of the Minnesota Civic Education Coalition: Minnesota Civic Youth, the Learning Law and Democracy Foundation, and the YMCA Youth In Government program. With me to represent these organizations were social studies legend Jennifer Bloom, Amy Anderson, and Orville Lindquist. Grants such as these would help fund extracurricular to engage students, such as visits to the capitol.
It just so happened that the day before I presented this bill, I actually had the opportunity to speak to the Minnesota Youth Council, a group of politically active students who hold mock committees here at the capitol. Just last week, I was appointed to be the council’s legislative liaison, which means I will continue to be involved with them over the next four years. This is truly a mix of my two greatest passions, and I could not be more excited.
Puppies Visit the Capitol
I thought it would be best to end this newsletter on a high note. This Thursday was National Puppy Day, and several shelter puppies were delivered to the State Office Building to meet legislators and staff. While I could not make it due to being in committee, I wanted to share with you this picture of my legislative assistant, Greg Weiner.
I hope you all have as great of a time this weekend as he is having in that picture.
The annual Eden Prairie Ice Show, which I mentioned in last week’s email, is taking place Friday through Sunday. Here are the details again:
Friday, March 24 at 7:00 pm
Saturday, March 25 at 5:00 pm
Sunday, March 26 at 2:00 pm
Where: Eden Prairie Community Center, 16700 Valley View Road
Ages 3–17: $6
Ages 2 and younger: Free
Tickets are available in advance at the Community Center or at the door. Presented by the Eden Prairie Figure Skating Club.
Be sure to stop by!