Governor’s budget addresses needs at home

Published 5:23 pm Saturday, January 31, 2015

This week’s biggest news at the Legislature centered on Governor Dayton’s 2016-2017 budget recommendations. The recommendations cover a large swath of new investments including early childhood education, a comprehensive transportation package that focuses on local roads and bridge repair throughout Greater Minnesota, an expansion of broadband, and so much more. I appreciate the governor laying out his priorities, and committees will be taking a closer look at his recommendations in the weeks to come.

The governor’s budget proposals are usually viewed as the first of many steps in the process toward creating a two-year budget. Now that the House and Senate know the governor’s priorities, we can develop our own budgets, taking the governor’s key areas into consideration.

By Sen. Dan Sparks

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As we work toward assembling our budget priorities, it is important for us to get feedback from people, businesses, and elected bodies across the state. I particularly like to hear from those in our area and what will be most helpful for me to focus on for the district. I was happy to welcome a number of local groups to the Capitol this week to discuss their priorities.

Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) supervisors and staff from Mower, Freeborn, Dodge and Steele Counties visited with me at the Capitol on Tuesday. The SWCD’s do the real work, following through on state directives by working with landowners in our communities. They are on the front line of protecting and preserving our natural resources such as the restoration work at Dobbins Creek by Mower SWCD. We don’t always notice these efforts but we all benefit from them.

The SWCD’s do not have a dedicated source of operating or project funding. They mostly depend on county support and grants to do their work. This leads to disparities between districts and makes it difficult for SWCD’s to do their work. I have been working with them and other interested parties to help address how they are funded to ensure more long-term funding stability.

I also had the pleasure of meeting with several city staff and elected officials from Austin and Albert Lea this week. Austin City Council member Janet Anderson, City Administrator Craig Clark and I had a good discussion about Austin’s needs in workforce housing, transportation, greater broadband access and Local Government Aid. I appreciate when constituents and city leaders from the district make the trip up to the Capitol; I can better serve our district when I know the exact needs of our city and county leaders.

If you have questions regarding these or other matters, please contact my office at 651-296-9248.