Minnesota Senator Gives Legislative Session a C+ Grade
District 24 State Senator John Jasinski of Faribault told KDHL AM Minnesota listeners today the recently completed legislative session was difficult due to COVID.
You might recall that initially the state was informed it would receive approximately $2.5 billion dollars. Then $2.8 billion. Senator Jasinski says the number is now closer to $3 billion dollars coming from the Federal Government as part of the Rescue Plan money.
Jasinski says Republicans want to use the dollars for one-time budgeting impacts. He says Democrats want to put a quote, "Ton of money into K-12 education" which he says is good but, "It's 41 percent of our budget now. They continue to put in more and more and if we use this money for that when it goes away there's a big gap of what is needed."
The budget will be finalized during special session in mid-June. A half a billion dollars has been allocated to the Governor.
Jasinski says, "We've gotten some criticism on that. That's a lot of money for the Governor to spend, but if we hadn't reached an agreement he would've had $3 billion dollars to spend. So compromise is what government's about. It's the biggest thing I hear when I'm out knocking on doors. (People) say they want to see the government get things done. None of these stalemates and all these things."
"So yes we had to agree to let him spend $500 million dollars. He's going to use some of those (dollars) pretty heavily in education obviously as a former educator. " Jasinski went on to say, " I think some of his money is being used for summer school education which is good. We need to do that. Not having kids in school this whole last year is going to cause more and more of an achievement gap which we had already."
Jasinski was chief author of the Aric Mattson bill. He was very disappointed that the bipartisan-backed legislation in the Senate was not even accepted by the House of Representatives. The bill increases penalties for people convicted of First Degree Assault or Attempted Murder of a police officer, corrections officer, prosecutor or judge.
"It seems like a no-brainer to me and it does in our rural Minnesota area but in the metro, Minneapolis, with what's going on. You know it's not what they believe is the correct thing to do which is just crazy. But it really does show the vast differences at the capitol and the two parties right now Democrats and Republicans. We want to support our police. They want to defund the police in Minneapolis or fund them lower. So it's a big issue."
Redistricting following the recent US Census will add to urban dominance in St. Paul.
"You're going to see more and more consolidation of the Democratic Party in the metro areas. Our rural areas are going to get bigger and bigger. We're actually going through redistricting this year. From a rough number count my district will have to grow by five thousand people. That's a lot of people. The districts in Minneapolis and St. Paul (metro area) are going to get much smaller and more condensed. When they get that way it really does change the politics of what's going on. Across the nation you see kind of a rural, I'll say versus suburban, but it's really pretty specific how you see which party is in control of those areas."
The Faribault Republican State Senator gave the recently completed regular session of the State Legislature a C+ grade. He said in a recent conversation with a veteran lawmaker it was pointed out Governor Tim Walz has been more involved in the budget negotiations than previous Governors.
"Governor Walz. I've mentioned to you I worked with him in the very beginning (of his term) but really after seeing him operate over the last couple years it really seems like Washington politics. Just more difficult to deal with and it's frustrating. He campaigned on a one Minnesota and it just doesn't seem that's going on now."
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