This blog post originally appeared on the Minnesota Department of Education website blogg[ed]MN.
Since taking office, Governor Mark Dayton has made a number of critical investments in early education. One significant investment came in 2011 when Governor Dayton and the Legislature invested $5.45 million in the Minnesota Reading Corps to expand the program and help more students gain access to one-on-one tutoring.
In fact, 30,000 students benefited from the Minnesota Reading Corps AmeriCorps individualized, one-on-one tutoring to kindergarten through third grade students and using proven literacy interventions last year.
And the best part is: It’s working.
Today, a new report shows that this work is resulting in big improvements for the state’s youngest learners.
The study, conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, analyzed the impact of the Minnesota Reading Corps on improving student achievement in reading. It looked at a sample of 1,350 Minnesota students from Kindergarten through 3rd Grade, and followed their performance over a 16-week period in the 2012-2013 school year.
Check out some of these amazing highlights from the report:
Interested in reading more about the study? Here are some links to materials from today’s report:
Last summer, Governor Dayton asked Minnesotans to send him their “Unsession suggestions.” Thanks to your good ideas, Governor Dayton delivered over 1,000 Unsession proposals to the Legislature. Some of these proposals have already become law and the Governor hopes to sign hundreds more Unsession provisions into law in the coming weeks.
This is the first video in a series focused on the Unsession. Check it out and stay tuned in the coming weeks to see how Governor Dayton is working to make better government for a better Minnesota.
New research shows the percentage of young Minnesotans enrolling in higher education has increased dramatically. Between 2003 and 2011, the rate increased from 68 percent to 78 percent – a 10 percent jump. This is great news for Minnesota’s fast growing economy, which depends on a highly educated workforce.
To make further progress, last year Governor Dayton and the Legislature made the largest investment in student aid in a generation. This investment was important and urgent because Minnesota students borrow more money for education than the national average. This was a huge step in making more financial aid available for the students of Minnesota.
The Minnesota Measures: 2014 Report on Higher Education Performance also shows that 71 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduates depend on grants and scholarships to pay for their education. Commissioner Larry Pogemiller said the increasing enrollment of recent graduates shows the importance of the Minnesota State Grant, which provides need-based grants to over 100,000 Minnesotans.
Governor Mark Dayton today signed legislation (HF1777) cutting taxes for middle class Minnesotans and businesses. The $508 million tax cut signed into law today will put more money in the pockets of middle class families, individuals, and thousands of businesses across Minnesota. Because the Legislature acted quickly to pass the bill, many Minnesotans will see immediate tax savings during the current tax filing season.
“These tax cuts will put more money in the pockets of Minnesota families and businesses, and in the spirit of the Unsession, make taxes simpler for Minnesotans,” said Governor Dayton. “I thank Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, House Speaker Paul Thissen, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, Tax Chairs Rod Skoe, Ann Lenczewski and Ann Rest, and the other legislators, who spearheaded these tax cuts to passage.”
Since some of these tax cuts will be available immediately during this filing season, the Minnesota Department of Revenue is working with tax preparers and online tax preparation services to update tax filing software for the estimated 1.4 million Minnesotans who have not yet filed their taxes.
For those Minnesotans who have already filed their taxes, the Minnesota Department of Revenue will review each tax return and determine whether adjustments and refunds can be made automatically. The Department will contact any taxpayer who will need to file an amended return to receive these new tax benefits.
Reducing Taxes for Middle Class Minnesotans ($230M)
By conforming Minnesota’s tax code to the federal government’s, the bill signed today by Governor Dayton will simplify taxes and provide tax cuts for middle class Minnesotans.
The latest State Budget Forecast is great news for Minnesota! For the first time in seven years, the Forecast is predicting budget surpluses for our state’s current biennium and the next one. When I took office three years ago, the 2011 Forecast predicted a deficit of $5 billion for the next two years. This year’s Forecast predicts a surplus of $2.6 billion.
Photo credit: Flickr user ndboy
Bees are receiving their share of the spotlight during this year’s legislative session. Governor Dayton’s bonding proposal recommends investing $12 million in the University of Minnesota Bee research laboratory, which will foster the expansion of agriculture research and help revitalize Minnesota’s bee population.
The work of pollinators is vital to the health of numerous fruits, vegetables, and crops worldwide, accounting for one in every three bites of food. These busy insects improve the vitality of nearly half of Minnesota’s entire crop production, which translates to thousands of jobs. Overall, Minnesota’s farm and foods sectors generate $74 billion in annual economic activity for our state – helping to sustain communities across the state. The declining population is a growing concern, and Governor Dayton’s recommendation is a promising investment for thousands of Minnesota farmers.
The jobs bill Governor Mark Dayton proposed last month will make critical investments in infrastructure projects statewide, including key projects across Minnesota’s Iron Range – investments that will add value to our communities, and build on the momentum of our state’s growing economy. In total, the Governor’s bonding proposal would invest $986 million in infrastructure improvements statewide, creating 27,000 jobs.
An EagleCam still from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource's website
Minnesota’s winter has ruffled a few feathers over the past few months for Minnesotans, but the Bald Eagles featured on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s EagleCam are taking the cold weather in stride. For the second year the EagleCam project features a live feed of a Bald Eagle nest in the Twin cities metro area. It is a great opportunity to see Minnesota’s thriving wildlife up-close without a trek through the ice and snow.Despite the frigid weather, these Bald Eagles continue to soar in internet hits and views. EagleCam received 21,771 visits from 50 states and 54 countries on its first day broadcasting. These eagles don’t just preen for the camera though—viewers watch the Bald Eagle couple work hard together, switching between incubating the eggs, feeding, and protecting the nest.
These two eagles aren’t the only team featured in this project. EagleCam is a collaborative project between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, their information technology staff, and the Minnesota Information Technology Central staff. This year their teamwork has brought the addition of mobile support to viewers. People from all over can enjoy a glimpse into the life of some of Minnesota’s finest residents.
Photo credit: cc Flickr user Mark Evans
ST. PAUL, MN – Governor Mark Dayton this morning signed legislation providing additional state funding to keep Minnesotans safe and warm during this winter’s propane emergency. The first bill signed into law by Governor Dayton this session (HF2374/SF1961) adds $20 million to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), giving approximately 180,000 Minnesotans the financial help they need to pay their heating bills this winter.
“The amount of propane needed to heat Minnesota homes, farms, and businesses during this exceptionally cold winter and the skyrocketing cost of propane threatened to exhaust our state’s LIHEAP funding and put our citizens out in the cold. This funding crisis required immediate action – action that the legislature wisely took today,” said Governor Dayton. “We are continuing to do everything possible to keep Minnesotans safe and warm during this emergency.”
Soaring prices for heating fuel, caused by a severe shortage of propane in the Midwest, have led to financial hardship for families across Minnesota – placing additional strain on LIHEAP funds. Without state action, Minnesota’s heating assistance funds were projected to run out shortly after March 1st of this year. But the new state funding allocation provided today will help ensure that all eligible Minnesota households seeking assistance to heat their homes this winter will get the financial help they need.
“By the end of this winter, we are projecting that nearly 180,000 qualifying Minnesota households will apply for and receive heating assistance – that is a 30 percent increase over last year,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, whose agency manages the state’s LIHEAP program. “Without the support of Governor Dayton and the Legislature, we would not have been able to provide tens of thousands of families the help they need to weather the rest of these cold winter months.”
In a letter to legislators earlier this month, Governor Dayton expressed his plans to shore up state funding for LIHEAP, if the federal government did not provide additional funding for Minnesota. The new heating assistance funds authorized by the legislature today will be available immediately for eligible Minnesota households.
Expanded Heating Assistance Program Will Help Thousands of Minnesotans
Knowing the financial hardships Minnesotans are facing due to the propane shortage, Governor Dayton took executive action earlier this month to expand LIHEAP assistance to another 120,000 Minnesota households. Now, Minnesotans earning less than 60 percent of the state median income (SMI) are eligible for LIHEAP.
That means a family of four earning less than $52,370 per year, or a household of two earning less than $35,612 now qualify for heating assistance this winter. The Minnesota Department of Commerce projects that roughly 30,000 to 40,000 newly-eligible households will apply for heating assistance this year.
LIHEAP recipients will also benefit from additional financial assistance this winter. In response to the propane shortage, the Dayton Administration announced that LIHEAP applicants who heat their homes with propane and heating oil will now qualify for up to $1,000 in crisis payments – an increase of $500.