As we enter the holiday season, I hope that you and your friends, family, and other loved ones are enjoying spending time together. During the holidays it’s important to take a moment to be thankful for those in our lives who mean so much to us, and I hope that you can find that time together. I also ask that you take a moment to extend thoughts and prayers to our service members who are serving overseas, who cannot be with their families. While this may be a hard time for them, we extend our gratitude to them for their sacrifice.

While the 2020 legislative session does not start until February, we are beginning to get a picture of the shape of our budget. We received some very encouraging budget news for the state with the release of the November Budget Forecast from the Office of Minnesota Management and Budget. Thanks to a growing economy and smart decisions we’ve made focusing on budget stability, the latest data shows Minnesota with a budget surplus of $1.332 billion in the 2020-21 biennium. Additionally, we have built up the state’s budget reserve, our rainy-day fund, to $2.359 billion.

A budget surplus is always better news than a budget deficit, but we must also be careful. The forecast does not consider the effects of inflation making any surplus appear larger than it may be. We should also not be tempted to make short-term decisions that could jeopardize the long-term fiscal stability of the state. We passed a balanced budget in 2019, and any supplemental budget bill or spending should be limited one-time money for high priorities.

One potential use for the surplus could be in how we approach a bonding bill. The 2020 session will be focused on passing a bonding bill that will fund capital projects throughout the state. These projects are the types of infrastructure that are essential to the core functions of our state, like roads and bridges, wastewater treatment, or other major public works. Bonding is also vital to upgrading and supporting Minnesota’s dozens of colleges and universities, to make sure our students are getting the best education they deserve.

I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure we take care of this essential infrastructure in 2020. Any bonding bill that is passed will require 2/3 support of each body of the legislature and must pass in the House first and then come to the Senate. Since neither body is controlled by enough Democrats or Republicans, that means a final bill will require bipartisan support. I know that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will put the needs of Minnesota — not politics — first in our final bonding bill.

Senate Republicans have not held a public hearing to examine the causes and effects of climate change since they took the majority in 2017. In response, my colleagues and I have formed the Senate DFL Clean Energy and Climate Caucus and will work to give more Minnesotans a voice in the legislative process and promote legislation encouraging clean energy innovation. The caucus plans to hold public listening sessions, meet to discuss legislative advocacy, and work to amplify the voices of Minnesotans who want to see the state act on climate change. I will work to advance smart science-based legislation that supports our environment and Minnesota’s future.

The new legislative session is fast approaching, and we know it will be a short but busy one. I encourage my constituents to reach out to me on the budget or to speak to me on any issue. Don't hesitate to call my office at 651-297-8060 with any questions or concerns.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!