Throughout the 2015 legislative session, DFL Senators have bridged wide differences between the governor and Republican House. Divided government is difficult, but we worked together – not everyone gets everything they want. Expectations were high. While compromise often means not everyone is 100% satisfied, under this carefully negotiated budget agreement we invest in our schools, families, colleges and universities, and our healthcare systems.
The Senate followed the governor’s lead by supporting significant additional funding for our schools. During a dramatic special session, DFL senators prevailed in securing more money for our state’s K-12 schools and early childhood programs–even more than the Senate originally proposed. A 2% funding increase was secured for each of the next two years. Our schools face great challenges and we will continue to fight for funding in the future.
The special session also produced improvements to two other bills, the Jobs Omnibus and the Agriculture and Environment Omnibus bills; both had been previously vetoed by the Governor along with the Education budget over House provisions that would have been detrimental to Minnesota. Some Senators of both parties still have concerns with certain provisions of the environment section in particular, and those conversations are certain to carry over into the second half of the biennium.
The Senate DFL delivered on our commitment to protect MinnesotaCare. Republicans insisted on eliminating affordable health insurance for 90,000 working Minnesotans, but we prevailed and were able to protect one of the programs that has made Minnesota a national model for quality, affordable, and accessible health care. In addition, the nursing home reimbursement reform in our agreement will allow for a more equitable distribution of these very important funds–helping both our seniors and nursing home workers.
We also prevented the unstable House tax bill from becoming law. It included large tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy that would grow over time, and included provisions that would reverse the state’s recent progress toward a fairer tax system. Their bill was also unsustainable; it would have put us in danger of returning to the cycles of deficits we have only recently escaped from.
Transportation is still a top priority for DFL senators. We are dedicated and determined to pass a sustainable plan next session that addresses our state’s transportation needs into the future.
Minnesotans want strong leadership that puts aside partisan differences to get things done. The Senate DFL is working to move Minnesota forward by helping to create critical compromises to fund priorities shared by all Minnesotans. We certainly didn’t get everything we wanted in this budget, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the critical priorities we were able to defend and the good progress that was made on many topics this year.