My name is Barb Yarusso. I represent District 42A in the Minnesota House of Representatives. [If you would like to see the boundaries of the district, or aren't sure if you're in it, click here.]
It's been an honor to serve our communities in the Minnesota House of Representatives. One of the best parts of my job has been meeting and corresponding with constituents about their priorities. I also have had the chance to assist individual constituents in dealing with state agencies or find resources.
I've carried the engineer's training of asking good questions into my committee work. I've collaborated across levels of government on projects of local importance. Projects like the bridge carrying Highway 96 over 35W involve state funding, state agencies, and county and city governments. I'm working with legislators and county commissioners from the north and east metro area on regional issues like transportation and groundwater. I work with other legislators statewide to protect Minnesota's incredible natural resources. And I work with legislators, educators, administrators, and parents to ensure our kids get the education they need to succeed as adults.
In 2013 and 2014 we balanced the state budget and began to reinvest in Minnesota's future. We paid back the money that was borrowed from our schools. We funded job training programs and facilities at our colleges and universities that are needed to maintain Minnesota's excellent work force, and froze tuition at our state colleges and universities. We introduced solar electrical energy production goals. We invested in infrastructure like roads and bridges. As a result, Minnesota is now a leader in the region in economic growth and jobs recovery.
The 2015-2016 session has had mixed results. Some measures I supported became law, such as a long overdue increase in the nursing home reimbursement rate and a modest increase in K12 per-pupil funding. I've continued to work on relevant, fair teacher licensure requirements that uphold our high standards for Minnesota's teachers. However, we failed to pass a comprehensive transportation bill, and our environmental protections were slightly weakened (although I along with others helped fend off some of the anti-environmental proposals). As I write this, we are still waiting to hear if there will be a special session yet this year. Major objectives for a potential special session include repassage of a tax bill, due to drafting errors in the original bill, and passage of a bonding bill to fund needed infrastructure improvements.
I want to keep working to move Minnesota forward. We have big jobs ahead of us. We need sustainable transportation funding, transportation planning that includes public transit in the north and east metro, groundwater conservation, and better coordination between K12 and post-secondary education. We need to continue to make progress toward an economy that works for all Minnesotans. I ask for your vote on November 8 so I can go back to St. Paul and keep working for our communities.