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DFL Chairman Ken Martin on budget process

ken-martin“With release of the Senate DFL Caucus and House budget proposals this week, the stage is set for how the remainder of the session will play out.

“The House Republicans continue their failed practices of the past and aim to balance the budget on the backs of students and seniors. Even with a budget surplus and the opportunity to ensure all Minnesotans are taking part in Minnesota’s financial success; Republicans are more interested in tax cuts for businesses and wealthy Minnesotans.

“In sharp contrast, both Gov. Dayton and the Senate DFL make investments that will grow our economy. From early childhood education to ensure all children start school ready to learn to helping working families face the high cost of quality child care, DFL leaders are looking for long-term prosperity, not a sound bite for the next election.

“As legislators head home for their spring recess, I encourage citizens to reach out to their state representative and state senator and send them a message that the state budget should be invested in children, students and families to build an even better Minnesota for all.”




Senate GOP education plan falls short in helping rural Minnesota

By Ken Martin, chairman, Minnesota DFL

School CorridorSenate Republicans recently announced their major education proposal of the year, claiming that their plan is designed to help rural school districts catch up to suburban neighbors. Make no mistake: this bill was designed to put talking points first, and responsible policy second. It may appear to be a great idea at the outset, but the flat increase proposed by Senate GOP members does a disservice to the students that most need our support.

It’s true that additional money is needed in Minnesota school districts, and if it took political convenience to finally persuade the Senate Republican caucus of this fact, then that’s at least some progress. The problem is that by giving every district the same per-pupil increase, this plan actually helps most rural districts comparatively less. Many schools need additional money for special education costs, expenses related to growing diversity, and especially high transportation costs in rural communities. On top of all that, drawing away from the formula means that fewer dollars will be allocated to early childhood family education (ECFE) programs across the state. In light of recent DFL investments in all-day kindergarten and other initiatives designed to help our youngest Minnesotans, this seems particularly irresponsible. (more…)

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Statement from DFL Chairman Ken Martin on February Forecast

minnesota_flag“Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL legislators, Minnesota’s economy continues to grow and Minnesota has another budget surplus.

“DFL leaders have made it a priority to improve the economy, create jobs and invest in education. We’ve seen great progress, evident in today’s budget surplus, but we know more work needs to be done.

“By using the budget surplus for wise investments tied to economic growth, like early childhood education and fixing our deteriorating roads and bridges, we will build a Better Minnesota where everyone is taking part in our economic success.”




Nienow should stop disregarding state, federal laws

photo:  StarTribune

photo: StarTribune

While Sen. Sean Nienow has taken the spotlight as a spokesperson for the Senate Republican Caucus, his constituents remain in the dark on how much Nienow has raised and spent to keep his state job.

Months after declaring bankruptcy because he defaulted on an almost $1 million loan from the federal government, Nienow is late in filing his campaign report to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

“First Nienow defaulted on the federal government and now he is dodging his financial reporting responsibilities as a legislator,” said DFL Chairman Ken Martin. “Niewnow’s blatant disregard for the law makes it hard to take him seriously. Lawmakers are not above the law and should be role models for how Minnesotans behave.”

Earlier this week, Nienow was front and center on an education funding proposal that would hurt small school districts with declining enrollment as well as rural areas with large concentrations of poverty and minority students.

“Pitting school districts against each other is not a way to ensure student success,” Martin said. “His lack of understanding on financial issues evident by his personal failings and could be detrimental to our students receiving the best education possible.”

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By Ken Martin, Chairman, Minnesota DFL

MinnPost photo by Jana Freiband

MinnPost photo by Jana Freiband

Gov. Mark Dayton recently outlined his transportation proposal to improve 2,200 miles of roadways and 300 bridges in Minnesota. It’s no mystery why the state is at a crisis point: a majority of Minnesota’s roads are more than 50 years old, and in the next three years one in five will pass its useful life; and 40 percent of our bridges are 40 years old or older, and in the next 10 years, most will be past their useful life.

The deteriorating roads and bridges are having a direct impact on family and business bottom lines. As a result of bad roads, Minnesotans pay more than $1 billion a year – or about $400 per person – on vehicle repairs. Traffic congestion adds more than $200 million to businesses’ freight and transportation costs. Without action, the cost of transportation will continue to be a burden to families and businesses, and hamper Minnesota’s economic growth.

Thanks to Gov. Dayton’s plan, projects can be found throughout the state. Priority was given to roads in urgent need of repair. Gov. Dayton is also proactive, recommending long-term fixes on projects currently underway as well as preventive maintenance that will save money in the long run. The proposal also provides additional funding for “Corridors of Commerce,” a program that improves roadways used to move freight across the state. (more…)

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