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Saint Paul, Minnesota – A day after being sworn in as the new leaders of the Minnesota Legislature, House Speaker Paul Thissen and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk embraced the opportunity this session to grow Minnesota’s economy and the middle class. At a press conference in which they presented their vision for the 2013 session, they echoed an eagerness to work with Governor Dayton and legislators in both parties to confront the state’s big challenges, which include a $1.1 billion deficit, $1.1 billion in debt to schools, and a tax system that currently favors big special interests over middle class Minnesotans.
“We now share a responsibility to govern well and we know that Minnesotans are watching,” said Thissen. “Minnesotans deserve a legislature that works - and a legislature that works for them. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work confronting our state’s challenges with a focus on growing our economy and strengthening the middle class.”
"In the era of politics in Washington dominated by perpetual partisan showdowns and stop gap measures, we must chart a different course for Minnesota," said Bakk. "Minnesota faces significant challenges, and we have an opportunity to confront these challenges and build a more prosperous state for our citizens."
Thissen and Bakk shared their broad priorities for the session, which are focused on investments that will help Minnesota thrive now and in the future:
Expand economic opportunities for middle class Minnesotans
Focus on priorities to grow our economy from the middle-out, provide middle class Minnesotans the economic security they deserve, and create more opportunities to expand the middle class.
Balance the budget honestly without gimmicks
Tackle the state’s perpetual budget deficit - without gimmicks, and with a balanced approach that makes middle class Minnesotans the priority
Invest in our future with a world-class education system
Make investments in education at all levels to expand opportunities for students to succeed.
Tax fairness for middle class Minnesotans
Modernize Minnesota’s outdated tax system which currently favors big corporations and the wealthiest Minnesotans over middle class families.
Roll up our sleeves and get the job done
Listen to Minnesotans, working together to get the job done on-time and on budget.
Both leaders agreed balancing the budget honestly and without gimmicks would be a central task of the session. The state faces a $1.1 billion deficit and another $1.1 billion that is owed to schools due to borrowing from previous legislatures. The state has started five of the last six budget cycles in the red.
"We need to get out of this cycle of constantly managing a budget crisis,” said Bakk. “We're going to have an honest conversation with Minnesotans and hammer out a responsible budget that puts our state on a path to long-term economic stability and job growth."
Thissen and Bakk agreed that while there will be different ideas on how to best move Minnesota forward, they remained unified in their overarching goals for the session and are excited to work closely with the Governor to address the pressing challenges facing our state.
“We are going to have disagreements, but the important thing is those disagreement aren’t going to shut down our government. What Minnesotans want is a legislature that listens to different ideas and engages in reasoned debate. That's how a democracy is supposed to work,” said Thissen. “We understand there is tough work ahead and we are committed to working with Governor Dayton to address our state’s challenges with a focus on the priorities we all share: balancing the budget responsibly and strengthening and expanding the middle class."
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