With only a week of session left, many of us are asking where the last few months went. This week the E-12 Division met in conference committee several times to lay out the differences between our two bills. On Thursday the Senate also took up the Legacy Bill – which takes three-eighths of one percent of the state sales tax and uses the money to invest in clean water, outdoor heritage, arts and cultural heritage and parks and trails. The bill totals $537 million over the FY16-17 biennium and invests in hundreds of important projects that will protect and enhance important places all across the state.
The Senate recently passed provisions investing in our state’s economic development programs, workforce programs and our natural resources. The bill supports existing programs that help people find jobs, and funds new ideas that help move Minnesota forward.
Here are some highlights:
April 22 marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day in the United States. The annual event was designed to be a day where we take a step back to look at how our actions affect the earth, and recognize the things we can change to make our planet a better place to live. For many, the day means much more than simply remembering to recycle for a day.
This session many committees, including the Senate E-12 Budget Division, which I chair, have heard a great deal of testimony about the growing importance of vocational and technical education. We’ve also heard about the need for high schools to continue to offer or expand their technical educational offerings. There are thousands of good-paying jobs in technical fields in many communities across the state. There are several bills working their way through committees that address the need for more skilled workers to fill these jobs.
The advent of computers, smart phones and high-speed internet has allowed us to go places, see things and learn in completely new ways. Technology has also allowed us an interesting view into the world of public safety. The 21st century has introduced us to police officers who can wear body cameras, and record incidents as they happen, helping bring truth and transparency to situations that frequently come with only one point of view.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” – Dr. Seuss
Since 2003, Minnesota Reading Corps has helped nearly 150,000 struggling Minnesota students learn to read. The Reading Corps is an AmeriCorps program that provides trained literacy tutors for children age three to grade three. The program uses research-based early literacy to help struggling readers.
"The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
– Hubert H. Humphrey
Between now and 2045, the number of Minnesota adults aged 65 or older is expected to skyrocket. By 2030, more than 1 in 5 Minnesotans will be considered older adults, according to data from Minnesota Compass and the Wilder Foundation. This means caring for those in the twilight of life will get exponentially more expensive for the state in the years to come.
The Minnesota Legislature has a big goal this year: preparing all students to be ready for college and career. To accomplish this, one of the main strategies being discussed is helping our youngest learners become ready for kindergarten.
At the first Senate E-12 Education Policy and Budget Committee hearing of the year, members heard dozens of great recommendations on everything from technology to school facilities to mental health. As Chair of the committee, I felt we needed to hear from our education partners and stakeholders to begin session with a clear idea of what’s needed in our public schools across the state.