It is my honor to serve as your state senator here in District 04. It was a pleasure my first year in the senate, and I am excited to continue working hard to make our district and our state even better in 2014.
Now that session has begun again, our days at the capitol will be filled with committees, constituent meetings and long hours rolling up our sleeves and tackling the important issues that are facing us.
Last session, we put together an honest budget that put us on firm financial footing. Now we know that we will be looking at a $1.233 billion budget surplus.
There has been much talk about what to do with a budget surplus. While many people are discussing options, it is my top priority that we include a five percent wage increase for the hardworking long term care providers that serve those with disabilities and seniors who need services to stay in their homes.
For too long these caregivers have gone without a wage increase, and many cannot support their families on the pay they currently receive. I believe they are well-deserving of this modest increase and that it will go a long way in decreasing staff turnover, improving care for Minnesota’s most vulnerable citizens and showing that we haven’t forgotten about the hard work they do. This increase would cost the state approximately $85 million.
Traditionally, even years of the biennium have been primarily focused on Capital Investment also called bonding. This year will be no different. As a member of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, I have taken part in tours across the state, receiving a firsthand glimpse at the great need for rebuilding our infrastructure and investing in our regional assets. Our local governments, state agencies, colleges and universities have made over $2.8 billion in requests, but we will be putting together a final bill in the realm of $1 billion.
There are several well-deserving local projects I would like to see in a final bill, and the full list of projects is available at the website Build.MN. I encourage you to check out this interactive website and to contact me or any other members of the Capital Investment committee to let us know why you think we should support a specific project.
This year’s session is starting later than in the past and should be fairly short. However, we will have to fit a lot of work into a small window of time. I would encourage anyone and everyone to contact my office and I with any questions or comments about legislation or other issues.
I will continue to work hard for you. I appreciate the feedback that I receive regarding the work I am doing in St. Paul for you. Let’s work together to make western Minnesota an even better place to live, work and raise a family.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be your state senator.