On Friday, more than 300 of Minnesota’s nonprofit and philanthropic leaders met to hear what Legislative leaders predict for the 2015 session.
Many topics were touched upon, but most conversation centered on what the projected $1 billion budget surplus might mean for state residents and on construction at the Capitol.
Senate Focusing on Education and Workforce Development
Sen. Katie Sieben, assistant majority leader, talked about bills introduced in the Senate last week and mentioned six important ones, with four of those addressing education and workforce development, including:
- Statewide pre-K for four-year olds
- Free tuition at two-year colleges
- An apprentice-like training program to prepare workers for open positions currently going unfilled
- Tuition reimbursement for health care professionals who agree to practice in rural Minnesota
Sieben also believes transportation and reform of the state’s Child Protection system will be addressed in 2015.
Governor Directing Attention to Long-term Investment
Jaime Tincher, Governor Dayton’s chief of staff, said, “Governor Dayton isn’t thinking about how to spend the state surplus, but rather, how to invest it.” She says he’s focused on education and transportation.
The Governor also plans to propose a bonding bill this session, as he believes Minnesota has underinvested in important institutions and infrastructure. “We’re working with you and trying to make our state better for decades to come,” she said.
House Leader Stresses Voting and Civic Engagement
Rep. Paul Thiessen, minority leader, brought up the success of the last Legislative session and said he and his caucus will continue to work to make things better for families across Minnesota.
He expressed dismay at the lack of civic engagement across the country and encouraged people to vote and run for office, saying, “We need candidates from all walks of life and all communities.”
He wants to make it easy for all citizens to vote and said he supports statewide early voting and felony re-enfranchisement. He said there is support in his caucus on these issues also.
Theissen stressed the need for all of us to “connect the dots between voting and civic engagement and the problems we are all working to solve.”
Construction at the Capitol, with the resulting lack of meeting space and many other inconveniences, came up multiple times during the morning. Rep. Denny McNamara advised constituents to meet with representatives in their home districts until the construction is complete.
Others recommended consulting the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits At the Capitol tab and the Capitol Restoration Project website for current office locations, parking details and weekly construction updates.
– Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate
Photo: Minnesota State Capitol