Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) and 66 other state senators from around Minnesota gathered in St. Paul Tuesday for the start of the 2020 legislative session. The marquee item on the agenda will be a bonding bill focused on core infrastructure and clean water as well as proposals addressing rising prescription drug costs, closing the achievement gap, and managing the state’s budget surplus.
“There aren’t many feelings that compare to the excitement of the first day of the legislative session,” said Sen. Nelson. “This is a short session, so we must be focused like a laser on what we want to achieve this year. I am optimistic — I believe we can accomplish a great deal if we focus on the issues that unite us rather than the issues that divide us. There are many issues that have bipartisan support; that’s where I will be dedicating my time and energy.”
Comprehensive state budgets are approved in odd-numbered years, but legislators still must determine how to allocate a projected $1.33 billion surplus. Potential options include investing it into key priorities like roads and bridges; returning it to taxpayers in the form of tax relief, like reductions on Social Security Income or reductions to keep charitable gaming proceeds in local communities; and continuing to save it for a rainy day.
In addition to the bonding bill and a bill managing the state’s budget surplus, Senator Nelson views three bipartisan priorities as the key to the upcoming session:
First, the runway at the Rochester International Airport is damaged and badly needs to be rebuilt. The federal government will provide most of the funding for improvement costs, while Senator Nelson will sponsor a capital investment proposal that would fund Minnesota’s share. Rebuilding the runway will make travel safer, provide jobs, and strengthen southern Minnesota’s economy.
Second, Sen. Nelson will continue her efforts to help every student read well by third grade – the age at which children transition from learning to read to reading to learn. Students who don’t reach that crucial milestone will have a difficult time catching up to their peers, and face worse academic outcomes.
Third, Sen. Nelson will push for more funding to improve school safety. Sen. Nelson will advocate using money from the state’s budget surplus to let schools make critical safety improvements.