Good News on the February Budget Forecast!

Positive budget balance of $1.6 billion projected

The Minnesota Management and Budget released the February economic forecast for the State of Minnesota today, showing that Minnesota now projects a positive balance of $1.6 billion because of a higher revenue forecast, lower state spending, and an increased surplus for the current fiscal year. 

The positive budget balance is thanks largely to federal support towards COVID-19 relief, and lower than expected state spending.

While the recovery of our state economy continues, we must remember that the best way to strengthen the recovery for every Minnesotan is by investing in our shared values, like education, infrastructure, and in our people.

Today’s forecast is good news for our state’s economic health, but we must work together to craft a budget that makes sure no one gets left behind in this recovery. While we are grateful for the support of the federal government to improve our economic situation in Minnesota, it is up to us as state policymakers to pass a budget that reflects our values and invests in the needs of Minnesotans. 

While the projection shows that Minnesota’s state economy is rebounding, these effects have not been felt equally as many Minnesotans remain unemployed or underemployed. Full budget and economic materials can be found at for more information.

Minnesota’s surplus is good news for our state budget. But it doesn’t change anything for those who’ve lost their jobs or whose businesses are struggling. We need to continue to invest so that Minnesotans can emerge from COVID-19 stronger than before.
After one of the most difficult years in our state’s history, it’s good to see Minnesota is in a strong financial position. But that doesn’t reflect the challenges so many continue to face. We can’t forget to make whole those who’ve sacrificed to save lives.
Thanks to measures Minnesota took to slow the spread, not only did we save lives, but we protected our economy. Now let’s invest in Minnesota to level the playing field for working families, our students, and small businesses!


My bill memorializing the efforts of the United States to continue the search for nearly 80,000 American soldiers who have gone missing in action or are prisoners of war passed the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee and will advance to the Rules Committee before going to the Senate floor.

My remarks can be found here: 

The bill is SF 1041.

Many thanks to my testifiers - Greg Peterson, Veterans Service Officer of Brown County who is also head of the professional organization of veterans service officers in Minnesota, and Ann Bakkensen, whose father who shot down in North Korea during the Korean War. He is missing in action.

Both believe passionately that Americans leave no individuals behind. Never forget!

The Department of Defense video on this topic can be found here: 

It is called "Fulfilling our Nation's Promise" and it is narrated by Kevin Costner. Senate committee members viewed the video during the bill hearing.


Sen. Nick Frentz of North Mankato and I discussed environmental legislation on the Senate floor.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Today, the Minnesota Management and Budget Office, released their updated February budget forecast for our state, and it showed some positive news for the economic health of our state.

They are projecting that we will have a positive budget balance of $1.6 billion for the upcoming biennium, the result of better-than-expected revenue collections and reduced state spending.

When COVID-19 arrived in Minnesota, none of us were prepared for the enormous disruption it would cause for all of us, but today’s forecast is just more positive news in our steady movement towards an end to this virus. With positive economic news, as well as the continued rollout of vaccines and the lower rates of transmission of the virus, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

With the forecast in hand, my colleagues and I will get to work in crafting a budget that reflects our values, and we must ensure that no one gets left behind. Whether it’s fully funding education, investing in infrastructure to create jobs, or ensuring everyone has access to high-quality healthcare, we have work to do to help those Minnesotans who have been most affected by this pandemic.

Governor Walz is working as hard as possible to guide our state through these tough times, and we must continue to work together to help communities recover. Now is not the time for any of us to let up in taking precautions against this virus - and if you haven’t yet, please sign up to learn when you will have access to the vaccine here: 

I had the distinct honor and privilege Thursday of presenting my bill memorializing U.S. efforts to continue the search for nearly 80,000 American soldiers who have gone missing in action or are prisoners of war in the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee. We never leave one American behind. Never forget! My remarks:! I am hopeful this bill will be passed on the floor as soon as next week!

As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns. Though we remain largely remote and virtual, I will promise to remain as accessible as ever.






COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

New priority groups, community sites, and resources available

Next priority groups announced for vaccinations beginning in April

Gov. Walz announced that the vaccine priority groups will remain the same until at least 70% of Minnesotans aged 65+ are vaccinated, with the goal to reach this benchmark by the end of March.

At that point, eligibility will expand to people with specific high-risk health conditions and targeted essential workers.

Later this spring, eligibility will continue to expand to groups such as those 16-64 with one or more other high-risk medical conditions, essential frontline workers, people aged 50 years and over living in multi-generational housing, and so on.

Moving on to new eligibility groups does not mean that people in early priority groups won’t have access to vaccine anymore. For the past several weeks our federal allocations have steadily increased. With new vaccines on the horizon, health officials are confident that this supply will continue to grow, allowing new groups to be added to prioritization through the spring, and the general public being eligible this summer.

All Minnesotans who have not been vaccinated can sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector to stay updated on eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine and connect to local vaccine opportunities when they become available.

New community vaccine site to open at the Mall of America

Minnesota is launching a new community vaccination site at the Mall of America.

In the first week, over 8,000 educators and childcare workers will be able to get vaccinated. Over 10,000 doses will be directed to the other community sites in Minneapolis, Duluth, and Rochester for Minnesotans aged 65+.

Increasing Teachers of Color Act Advances

Minnesota needs to make attracting and retaining teachers of color and American Indian teachers a priority. A bill that is gaining momentum in the Legislature would do just that.  

The 2021 Increase Teachers of Color Act, SF 446, which I co-authored, is a comprehensive approach to the changes needed to recruit and keep more teachers who reflect the diversity of our students in the profession. 

 The overarching goal is for students to have equitable access to effective and diverse teachers of color and American Indian teachers by 2040 and to start building culturally responsive schools; not only for our children, but the adults who teach and care for them every day. Although the number of students of color in Minnesota is now at about 35 percent, only about 5.6 percent of teachers are people of color or American Indian. 

 Research shows that BIPOC teachers benefit all students and help narrow opportunity gaps. Minnesota has some of the worst racial disparities in the country for BIPOC students, and it’s time for urgent legislative action for systemic change. 

The legislation also has endorsements from more than 55 councils, education and community organizations, and builds upon previous versions of the Increase Teachers of Color Act starting in 2017. 



Keith Durham, a Hamline University student from Woodbury, and Jessica Davis, a former Minnesota Teacher of the Year, spoke this week in favor of legislation that would promote the hiring and retention of teachers of color.


Second Chance Holds Its 2021 Day on the Hill

The Second Chance Coalition, a group advocating for the restoration of the vote for individuals who have served their sentences, held its Day on the Hill this week.

The remarks I made at the rally are here:

The event focused on the Coalition’s 2021 legislative priorities, including reducing the fines and fees of individuals in cases of financial hardship through the judge’s discretion.

Proposed legislation would also stop the suspension of driver licenses in cases of unpaid tickets or violations that don’t impact public safety so individuals can have reliable transportation to work to pay off their fines.

The group also supports ending life sentencing for juveniles, bringing Minnesota in alignment with Supreme Court rulings and granting juveniles with opportunities for second chances and rehabilitation.

The Second Chance Coalition’s priorities have bipartisan support, with elected officials coming together to promise advocacy and support for the upcoming legislation. (SF 902)