Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Letter from Sen. Ortman – March 8, 2010

The Hamburg Post Readers I am going to be doing my best to post updates sent to me by those that Represent the residence of Hamburg at both the State and Federal Levels. For those that do not live within the districts of these elected officials, I encourage you to read the updates so that you may see what else is going on in St. Paul and Washington D.C. Feel free to leave comment or suggestions for the Representatives here or contact them directly. Remember get involved as apathy will never change the status quo.




Dear Friends,


February Forecast


On Tuesday, March 2, the Legislature was briefed on the new economic forecast released by the State Economist Tom Stinson. Our State still faces a nearly $1 billion dollar deficit. The February Forecast did show a $209 million improvement in the $1.2 billion dollar deficit, but most of the improvement comes from a larger than projected federal reimbursement for Medicaid and the Governor's unallotment of the GAMC program.


Contrary to this slight improvement, the February Forecast showed a larger deficit for the upcoming FY 2012-13. Next biennium's deficit is expected to grow to nearly $7 billion -- $363 million more than November projections. While our State's revenues have consistently fallen since November 2006, spending has continued to rise. Only in the last 15 months has State spending decreased, due in large part to the ARRA Federal Stimulus dollars funding our projects and, more recently, to the Governor's unallotments.


Attached, I have included a summary of the February Forecast findings. All other information can be found on the Minnesota Management and Budget website: Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have regarding our State's budget and economic future.


2nd Chance Day


As most of you know, one of the issues I have been passionate about during my time at the Capitol has been one to assist ex-offenders in their transition back to the community after they have served their time, paid their debt to society, and shown themselves to be rehabilitated. I have attached for you my article on expungement. One of the groups who also advocate strongly for exoffender rights is the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition. Each year they hold a 2nd Chance Day at the Capitol, which I had the pleasure of attending and briefly speaking at this year. Below is a link to a Kare-11 news article on the 2010 2nd Chance Day at the Capitol. Expungement, reducing recidivism, and restoring rights of ex-offenders has been important to me. If this issue is important to you as well, there are many opportunities you can take in your neighborhood to make a difference to ex-offenders returning to the community. One great organization, PEACE, sponsors a mentoring program for ex-offenders returning to their community. On Saturday, March 13, PEACE is sponsoring a mentoring training from 8:45 am -2:00 pm at the Hennepin Co. Adult Corrections Facility, Men's Building (1145 Shenandoah Lane, Plymouth). If you would like to participate in mentoring and supporting an ex-offender as they reenter their communities, or if you would like more information on opportunities to mentor in the future, please contact Jennifer Edel at 612-721-8687, or


From the District…


Last week I was fortunate enough to receive letters from about 25 seventh graders from Chaska Middle School who are learning about state government. I'd like to share with you some of their concerns and suggestions that they shared with me in their letters. About half of the students wrote thoughtfully regarding issues they face in school. Most were concerned about the perceived downside of the new

Chanhassen High School: the students' well-developed social networks will face changes and disruptions as they move from middle school to one of the two high schools. Others wrote about various issues in education, like nutritional school lunches and childhood obesity, block scheduling, elective classes, and bus stop etiquette. One student wrote to me about school funding and the concern that teachers receive a fair salary.


The other half of the students wrote about other issues they are passionate about. A number wrote about the environment, on topics ranging from stiffer penalties for littering and polluting, over-development of the land, creating and maintaining community parks, and even Cap & Trade. A few wrote on transportation safety issues, including stop-light timing and snow-plow safety. I even received an insightful letter on the GAMC program.


I am very happy that these students took the time to write to my Senate office. As you can tell from the issues above, they have been paying attention! Many of these issues are discussed in the Minnesota State Legislature each year. For many, I am sure that this is their first opportunity to express their views to their State representative. I hope that they continue to stay involved, continue to be passionate about issues that affect their lives and their loved ones, and perhaps one day pursue holding public office. Thank you for reading this week's E-Update! I deeply appreciate your involvement and welcome questions or comments you have on the any issues of your interest.



Julianne Ortman

State Senator

District 34