This is a busy time at the state capitol, with the February forecast bringing both good news and challenges to our state, an Education Finance committee meeting on the governor’s budget which I was honored to chair, and productive conversations with many of you in our district on the important issues facing us.
As I mentioned in the clip you just viewed, we have a better fiscal outlook than we previously thought. However, we still face a $627 million dollar deficit, and still owe our schools about $250 million in delayed school aid payments. I am proud to have authored House File 1, which pays back that debt to our schools. Southwest Light Rail is another of those smart investments that will promote economic development and job growth in our community, and I will also continue to lead in the effort to bring that project to fruition as I serve on the Transportation Committee.
In other Transportation Policy Committee news, this week we will be considering a bill authored by Transportation Policy Chair Ron Erhardt. This bill provides a comprehensive plan and blueprint to deal with aging infrastructure in our state, as well as allow for strategic investments to make us competitive and attractive to businesses looking to locate to our state.
On Monday, March 4 we discussed the Minnesota Health Care Exchange on the House floor. You can tune in on public television to watch the proceedings. This was another issue we spent a great deal of time talking about during our coffees this past weekend. Many of you have also sent me emails expressing your views on the exchange.
The insurance exchange bill we will be considering attempts to balance quality control with free market access principles. About 60 plans will be available on the exchange in the proposed plan, and access is not restricted to any particular segment of the insurance industry. There is a conflict-free governing board which will be appointed by the governor in this legislation, as well as an advisory group on which industry experts will sit. There are about 50 proposed amendments to this legislation for Representatives to consider, so I look forward to an informative and spirited discussion on this important addition to our state.
After the House and Senate have both passed their versions of the Health Care Exchange, a conference committee will work to hammer out a compromise.
On a fun note, I was happy to welcome the Glen Lake Elementary School’s fifth grade class to the capitol. They were very interested in the work we do at our state Capitol, and happy for the opportunity to tour the “people’s house.”
Please feel free to contact me at any time with thoughts, questions, or concerns. I do read the hundreds of emails I receive, but often it takes me a little while to respond. Know that I am taking your thoughts seriously, and appreciate you taking the time to participate in our great democratic process.
Thank you for allowing me to be your voice at our state Capitol.
Rep. Yvonne Selcer (48A)