Last night I gave an acceptance speech after being endorsed by the DFL party at the Minnesota Senate District 20 endorsing convention. I am humbled and honored to get another chance to represent the good people of SD20. Here is a partial excerpt from that speech.
…I am proud of the fact that it was constituents who guided my thinking while in the Minnesota Senate. Not a party playbook. Not the American Legislative Exchange Council. It was people like you and your neighbors.
All across the district, they all have a story to tell: fire fighters, police officers, librarians, social workers, outdoorsmen,, environmentalists, farmers, students, the elderly. They all want to know that they will be heard, that their voice will count.
I WANT TO BE THEIR VOICE IN THE LEGISLATURE.
While I reaffirm my commitment to the party, I pledge to do my best to represent all Minnesotans, Republicans and Democrats, Independents, and others. When we stop working together, our legislature becomes a haven for special interests and personal agendas.
We can do better …
We can do better. For our children and our schools… let’s stop balancing the budget on the backs of our schools. It’s time we fully fund all-day kindergarten. It’s time we stop short changing our colleges and universities. Let’s invest in our future by making college affordable. If people want to talk about education reform, how about asking those that really know about education….our teachers.
We can do better. We talk about wanting quality health care, yet over 400,000 Minnesotans go without. I believe in a universal single payer health plan and the sooner the better.
We can do better…for the environment. Because we actually believe in the overwhelming data scientists have given us about climate change. We can keep the vision alive for investments in renewable energy and less dependency on oil and coal.
WE can do better… than pandering to corporate America. I am all for helping businesses create jobs, but not at the expense of the middle class and the poor. The richest 1% ARE not clamoring for AND don’t need more tax breaks. It’s time every Minnesotan pays their fair share to put this state back on track.
We can do better… For our cities and towns: cuts to LGA mean higher property taxes. The current Republican majority cut the Homestead Market Value Credit. That means we’re paying higher property taxes. Another example of balancing the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it.
We can do better…let’s continue the fight for civil justice and equality for all people……and we can start right here in Minnesota.
We can do better, because we’ve been here before… We need to get back to the basics. I believe the basics include what every Minnesotan used to enjoy: a job that support long term dreams, an affordable school for each child, a clean and healthy environment, equality for all, and a right to grow old with dignity.
We can do better…because every one of you will be with me from my first step away from this podium to the steps of the Capitol. This is not about getting MY seat back. This election is about getting OUR seat back. We need a voice for the middle class. And it will take a collective effort Democrats, Independents, disgruntled Republicans, and hard working middle class Minnesotans who want to make a difference.
Let’s re-elect President Obama, Let’s re-elect Senator Amy Klobuchar, Let’s take back the Minnesota House, Let’s take back the Minnesota Senate, Let’s take back Minnesota!
This coming Tuesday, February 7, both the Republican and Democratic parties hold important neighborhood political meetings. In other words, it’s time to caucus. These grassroots gatherings offer attendees a chance to cast a straw poll to gauge candidate preferences for state or federal elected offices. Republicans this year will be splitting their votes among the four Presidential candidates still vying for their party’s nomination. Four years ago, at the DFL caucus, there were an avalanche of people showing up to cast their preference ballot for President Obama or Hillary Clinton. Since the President is unchallenged this year, you may think your attendance at a Democratic caucus is not as important. Choosing a candidate to represent the party is but one of the agenda items. Delegates, nominated and elected at the caucus, will move on to represent the party at County and legislative conventions, and if elected again…eventually moving on to Congressional, State and National conventions. These delegates play an important role in deciding which candidates at all levels of government will be on the ballot in November. If you’ve ever wished you had a better choice of pro-public education candidates on the November ballot you can see why delegates are so important. Caucuses provide a forum for citizens to engage their neighbors in a conversation on a wide range of public policy and political issues. In addition, caucuses also give voters a chance to discuss the party platform, propose resolutions, and action agenda items. These serve to help set the legislative and political agenda for our elected officials. Caucus attendees also elect officers who will be responsible for organizing political activities within the precinct.
You can choose to attend the party of your choice but must not be an active member of any other political party. You must attend your assigned caucus meeting in order to participate. In addition you must affirm that you live in the precinct, you will be 18 by November 6, 2012, and are eligible to vote. You can attend if you are 16 and still participate in caucus business but you are unable to vote or run as a delegate.
In general, Northfield Republicans will be meeting at Northfield High School and Northfield Democrats will be meeting at the Northfield Middle School. For specific locations, log on to the Secretary of State’s Caucus finder at:
Virtually all Minnesotans would agree that the last legislative session was a major disappointment and the historic shutdown we endured was an embarrassment to our state.
This session, it’s important that we work to rebuild the public’s trust in the legislature by setting aside things like divisive constitutional amendments and focusing on the things Minnesotans care most about: getting people back to work and fixing the state’s economy.
Despite welcome signs that our state’s economy is beginning to stabilize after a long and painful recession, Minnesota still faces a serious jobs deficit. That is why it is essential this legislature work with Gov. Dayton to pass a jobs plan to get Minnesotans back to work.
The DFL Jobs Plan will help businesses grow and retain good jobs in Minnesota by:
* Providing new incentives to companies that hire unemployed workers, veterans or recent graduates.
* Creating new opportunities for Minnesotans to get job training in high-demand fields.
* Putting new money into the Minnesota Investment Fund, which has a successful track record of attracting new businesses and helping existing Minnesota companies grow and expand.
* Making targeted and strategic investments in the state’s infrastructure, putting more than 20,000 Minnesotans back to work repairing and improving the state’s roads, bridges, waste water treatment facilities, and higher education research facilities.
This jobs plan includes good ideas to create jobs — but they aren’t the only good ones. Productive dialogue is needed to find other ways to get Minnesotans back to work. The important thing is that something gets done.
What we shouldn’t do is say jobs are the priority but then focus on something else. We already tried that last year. The Republican majorities proclaimed a “laser focus” on jobs, but instead focused on divisive constitutional amendments. For the sake of what most Minnesotans want and expect of their legislators, we hope the same won’t play out again this session.
Jobs should be our priority – not divisive constitutional amendments. Let’s work together, bring our good ideas to the table, and act quickly to pass a meaningful jobs bill that will get Minnesota working again.
Tonight we may see some of the coldest temperatures of the season. With many Minnesota families struggling, it is important that eligible low-income residents apply for energy assistance funds if they need help paying their heating bills this winter.
Minnesota has been notified by the federal government that our state will receive an initial grant of $73 million for home energy assistance. These funds are intended to help families pay their heating bills through grant money that is paid directly to utility or fuel vendors on behalf of customers.
Those interested in receiving the funds should apply to the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP) to determine eligibility to receive assistance. The grants are based on household size, income, fuel type, and energy usage. In 2010, this program helped more than 172,000 low-income households with $152.6 million in federal funds. This year, the average grant per household is expected to be $400. Households with seniors, children and the disabled are especially encouraged to apply.
To get information about eligibility and to receive an application, please contact your local energy assistance providers by county. In Rice County, contact Three Rivers Community Action, at (507) 732-7391, or 1-800-277-8418; the office is located in Zumbrota. In Sibley and LeSueur Counties, contact the Minnesota Valley Action Council at (507) 345-6822, or 1-800-767-7139, ext 4; the office is located in Mankato. In Scott County, contact Scott-Carver-Dakota Community Action, at (651) 322-3550; the office is located in Shakopee. An application can be downloaded at www.energy.mn.gov.
We’re relieved to see that Minnesota is showing signs of economic recovery, and it’s good to know that we don’t face another major deficit this year. But we need to be very cautious about calling this a “surplus.”
Today’s forecast shows that Minnesota will have enough revenue to backfill the budget reserves (“rainy day funds’) that were emptied last session. That’s welcome news. But we need to remember that this forecast will be updated in February, and there is still a very real chance some or all of this additional revenue could disappear in just a few months.
This forecast makes perfectly clear that this legislature has not solved our budget deficit. They’ve simply “kicked the can down the road” until after the next election.
Rather than working with Governor Dayton on a responsible budget solution, the Republican majorities borrowed billions from our schools and spent money the state didn’t have in order to avoid making the tough decisions. The result: a $3.4 billion budget deficit looming just a year away.
This reckless borrowing scheme has already cost our state dearly. Just yesterday, we learned Minnesota schools had to borrow nearly $400 million just to make up for the money the state took from them last year. Last week, we learned the state is going to have to pay almost $600 million in interest to pay for the Republican’s tobacco appropriation bonds.
If a corporation had $876 million in the bank but owed $3 billion in outstanding debt, they wouldn’t claim they had a surplus.
Calling this a surplus is like calling yourself rich when you have $100 in your wallet but just maxed out your credit cards to pay your mortgage and buy groceries.
So now the question is: will the Republican majorities choose to leave behind a $3 billion budget deficit, or will they get to work on fixing the problem and upholding their promise of “fiscal responsibility”?