To say 2020 has been a challenging year is an understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic hit in early March. Schools, hospitals, and businesses struggled to adapt. The legislature had to go to remote voting, then the state and national elections had to be completed in ways we had never seen before. Now our state is spiking in people testing positive for COVID-19. It has been a crazy ride.
However, despite the challenges everyone has been facing, there have been several positive developments, and I feel hopeful for our future. I am thankful the elections are over, and I am honored to be re-elected to the Minnesota Senate. Thank you all for that. I will always give 100% representing our area, and I will continue to be bipartisan and if need be will reach across party lines to get things done for you and our district.
We had very high voter turnout — that is a great thing! I am thankful to all the people who took the time to vote this year — whether in person or by mail. According to the Secretary of State, eight in 10 eligible Minnesotans voted in this year’s election — a rate not seen in 60 years and the highest in the nation. Minnesota’s voting laws make it easy to have your voice heard. Voting is a privilege, and I am proud to be from a state that does not take that privilege for granted.
Many have asked legislators “where do we go from here?” For starters, when the Minnesota Legislature gavels in on January 5, we will have a long “to-do” list, including balancing the state budget and addressing Minnesotans’ most pressing needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a lot of you know firsthand, I take the responsibility of serving you in the Senate quite seriously and look forward to tackling these tough issues.
Minnesota’s budget and economic outlook has significantly worsened since the coronavirus pandemic hit us. A deficit of $2.4 billion is now projected for the current biennium, which is almost a $4 billion change compared to the February forecast. Revenues are expected to be $3.6 billion lower and spending, including appropriations enacted since February, is expected to be $391 million higher. The $2.36 billion budget reserve remains available to mitigate the budgetary impact of the crisis. I certainly hope our friends in Congress in Washington DC pass an additional funding package to help our businesses and state and local governments. Given the uncertainty about the path of this pandemic, the economic outlook will remain volatile for some time. We hear optimism lately about a vaccine being available in early 2021 and the country should do everything it can to pursue that goal.
We must stop politicizing the pandemic and find common ground to mitigate and slow the rate of infections here in our state and across our great nation. We are all in this together. That means finding bipartisan solutions to get the virus under control so we can help support and open our businesses and schools again. Everybody must do their part.
We need to focus on health care for the most vulnerable in our communities. We always need a strong education system that fully supports teachers and students. Our area has grown tremendously in the last decade, and a strong catalyst has been our terrific area schools, welcoming approach, and quality of life. I will do everything I can to work hard to address our most pressing issues and represent my district with honor, honesty, and a spirit of bipartisanship to get things done.