BY ED FELIEN
On Saturday, June 4, Minnesota state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray and Reps. Jim Davnie and Emma Greenman held a Senate District 63 Town Hall meeting at Corcoran Park to explain their work at the legislature this year.
For Torres Ray and Davnie this Town Hall was probably especially memorable because it may be their last public meeting as elected officials. They’re both retiring this year. Patricia Torres Ray will have served the district for 16 years, and Jim Davnie will have served 22 years. They have been serious, progressive and hard working.
Torres Ray talked about how difficult it was to work with Republicans this year. They wouldn’t hold committee hearings to discuss pending legislation. They obviously didn’t want to hear from the DFL senators. And when DFLers would propose amendments to their legislation, the Republicans would rule the amendment was not germane—no matter how hard they had worked to make it germane.
Davnie added that they went to a conference committee to find agreement on the budget bill for education. The DFL House wanted a $3 billion increase in the budget for education. The Republican Senate wanted an increase of $30 million. That’s a big difference. They settled on an increase of something like $1 billion.
I asked Davnie during the question-and-answer session why the University and the Minneapolis Public School system have such bloated bureaucracies. The MPS budgets show 20% administrative costs when federal guidelines allow only 15%, and the University wants a huge raise in tuition in spite of declining enrollment.
Davnie answered that budgets he’d seen show only 6% administrative costs, but, he admitted, that depends on what you’re counting. As for interference with the University, there are strict rules and even state constitutional protections for the University from government interference.
Those seemed like pretty good answers.
The guy sitting next to me started his question by saying, “I know this is going to sound trite, but thank you for your service.”
And we all applauded.