In November 2014, Minnesota voters elected a divided government – with a DFL Governor, a DFL Senate, and a Republican House. During the 2015 Legislative Session, Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature compromised to make investments in education, infrastructure, and other essential services. Some of the highlights of the 2015 Legislative Session included:
NEW INVESTMENTS IN EDUCATION – Gov. Dayton fought to maximize our investments in education. Republicans initially proposed investing just $157 million in our students this session. But the Governor convinced lawmakers to invest $525 million in E-12 education, including:
- Access to child care and early learning for thousands more young learners across Minnesota
- More funding for every school, with 2 percent increases in each of the next two years
- Reducing the Head Start waiting list, giving over 1,200 kids a great start in school
- Important new investments in American Indian Education
- Additional resources and support for English Language Learners and American Indian students
NEW INVESTMENTS IN HIGHER EDUCATION – The Governor fought to secure funding to make higher education more affordable. Gov. Dayton proposed a tuition freeze at all state Colleges and Universities in his budget. But Republicans wanted to invest just $57 million in higher education. Ultimately, Gov. Dayton and DFL legislators convinced Republican lawmakers to agree to invest $166 million to make higher education more affordable, including:
- Tuition relief at the University of Minnesota and MnSCU campuses
- Increased funding for the State Grant Program for direct financial aid to students
- Returning the U of M Medical School to national prominence
CLEAN WATER – Gov. Dayton fought to secure new protections that will enhance and protect water quality in Minnesota. Working with a wide variety of stakeholders, the Governor successfully enacted a new buffer strip law that will cover an additional 110,000 acres of land around the state’s lakes, rivers, and streams in permanent vegetation – helping prevent pollution, and keeping our waters clean.
NEEDED INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS – Gov. Dayton and the Legislature agreed on a $140 million Jobs Bill that makes needed investments in critical infrastructure projects, including:
- Poultry and veterinary labs to help prevent and respond to diseases like avian influenza
- Railway safety grade separations at three rail crossings across the state
- Lewis & Clark water project for public health and economic development in SW Minnesota
- Higher education campuses improvements, flood mitigation efforts, and disaster relief.
STRONG FAMILIES, SAFER COMMUNITIES – Gov. Dayton and the Legislature made needed new investments in stronger, safer communities. Some of those measures included:
- Reforms to the child protection system, to keep all kids safe from abuse and neglect
- More law enforcement officers to track down and apprehend dangerous fugitives
- Supportive and safe housing for homeless and sexually exploited youth
- Workforce housing for Minnesota communities experiencing job growth\
- Access to employment for Minnesotans with disabilities
- Support to help prevent Minnesotans with mental illness from becoming homeless
- Stronger laws cracking down on distracted driving
BETTER HEALTH CARE – Gov. Dayton and the Legislature made needed investments and reforms to improve health care for seniors, vulnerable adults, and all Minnesotans, including:
- Major new investments in nursing homes statewide
- Historic investments in mental health that will improve the lives of many Minnesotans
- Tax-free ABLE savings accounts for Minnesotans with disabilities
- A task force that will help chart the future for quality, affordable health care in Minnesota
PREVENTING HARMFUL LEGISLATION
Gov. Dayton fought to prevent a long list of harmful legislation from becoming law. Republicans passed policies eliminating important environmental protections, eliminating health care for working families, rolling back clean energy policies, and getting rid of essential consumer protections.
SAVING HEALTH CARE FOR 100,000 MINNESOTANS – Republicans in the Legislature adamantly tried to eliminate MinnesotaCare – a move that would have eliminated health care for nearly 100,000 working families. Gov. Dayton fought, and successfully preserved MinnesotaCare coverage.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT – Republicans in the Legislature sought to roll back environmental protections – from granting perpetual amnesty to polluters, to allowing cities another 15 years to clean up contaminated drinking water. Gov. Dayton vetoed these and other harmful measures, and negotiated a stronger bill that preserved essential environmental protections. Click here to see how the environment and agriculture bill was improved after Governor Dayton’s May 23rd veto.
MAINTAINING NATION-LEADING CLEAN ENERGY STANDARDS – Republicans in the Legislature tried to roll back Minnesota’s nation-leading Renewable Energy Standard, the Conservation Improvement Program, and other clean energy programs that save Minnesotans money and prevent carbon emissions. Despite their passage by House Republicans, Gov. Dayton insisted these provisions be removed from the bill. Republicans relented, and removed the provisions from consideration in conference committee.
PRESERVING ESSENTIAL CONSUMER PROTECTIONS – House Republicans sought to eliminate the rate review division at the Minnesota Department of Commerce that approves prices for health plans filed by Minnesota health insurers – a process that helps protect the interests of consumers, and ensures that any rate increases are reasonable and justified. Gov. Dayton vetoed these measures, and secured full funding to provide adequate review of all proposed health insurance rates in Minnesota. Click here to see how the jobs and energy bill was improved after Governor Dayton’s May 23rd veto.