It will take more than improved financial projections and legislation on other issues to take the attention of Fridley's state Capitol contingent off a looming budget deficit that now stands at slightly more than $5 billion.
"No one should fool themselves into thinking that this improved forecast gets us out of trouble or means we can spend more in any area of the state budget," state Sen. Barb Goodwin said by email, in response to an inquiry Fridley Patch sent to all four of the city's state legislators. "We will still be forced to make billions in painful cuts that will impact all of us."
Goodwin urged that the state use the $1 billion in better budget outlook to pay back money borrowed from school districts, as Rep. Tom Tillberry (DFL-51B) , and she applauded Gov. Mark Dayton's proposals to reduce cuts to nursing homes and eliminate a surtax on incomes of more than $500,000. But she cautioned that much remains to be done:
I am anxious to start working on the budget and to see what [Republicans'] 'cuts only' budget looks like. I hope this time we will have a more open and public process on their bills than we had in the partial budget bill they introduced in the first month of session.
Minnesotans deserve to know how budget proposals will impact their schools, communities, roads, health care and public safety. Legislative business should never be done behind closed doors. The public must be allowed to have input. Education committees should hear education proposals. Judiciary Committee should hear budget proposals impacting the courts and prison system. Health and Human Service Committees should hear all bills that impact that area, etc. Only after this process is complete, should the proposals come to the Senate Finance Committee on which I sit and then to the floor for a final vote.
We have much work ahead of us, no easy fixes and only about 80 days left of the regular session. The sooner we get started, the better.
Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law Monday new pathways for people to become teachers in Minnesota. Sen. Pam Wolf (R-51, and a teacher herself) voted for the bill, while Goodwin and Tillberry (a school counselor) voted against.
Bills from Fridley's Legislators
Here are the bills that Fridley's senators and representatives authored or co-authored since last week's Capitol Review.
Sen. Barb Goodwin (DFL-50)
S.F. 553 (chief author): Allows candidates for office to serve as election judges in precincts in which their names do not appear on ballots. S.F. 554 (chief author): Authorizes collective bargaining for legislative employees. Also co-authored S.F. 552, extending exclusions from tax-valuation for improvements t0 homesteaded and commercial-industrial properties; and S.F. 600, freezing property valuation on homesteaded foreclosed properties and improvements to them.
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