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State Representative JoAnn Ward

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100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
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For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875

Posted: Mar 4 2014 11:45AM
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E-Update

Legislative Update: New Budget Forecast Shows $1.2 Billion Surplus


Dear neighbors,

Last week marked the beginning of the 2014 Legislative Session. I am honored to be back at our state capitol working on your behalf.

On Friday we received a new budget forecast showing a $1.2 billion surplus for the current biennium. That’s a big improvement from just one year ago when our state faced a $627 million deficit and owed our schools over $800 million.

Thanks to a new honestly balanced budget free of gimmicks and shifts and a productive year from our talented workforce and outstanding businesses, Minnesota’s fiscal house is on strong footing for the first time in years. We are well positioned to build on our progress by cutting taxes for middle class Minnesotans while maintaining a structurally balanced budget into the future.

Here is a quick look at some of the issues you can expect lawmakers to tackle over the coming days and weeks.

Middle Class Tax Cuts:

The House Taxes Committee has already passed a $500 million tax cut package that repeals three new business-to-business taxes and provides middle class tax relief by enacting federal tax conformity, which would simplify our state tax code and get rid of unnecessary burdens like the “marriage penalty.” According to the non-partisan House Research Department, eliminating the marriage penalty alone would save 650,000 families an average of $120 per year.

Read more: http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/247693931.html

Minimum Wage Increase:

The Legislature reconvened a conference committee made up of lawmakers from both the Senate and House to work out differences between two proposals to increase Minnesota’s minimum wage. Members of the public had an opportunity to provide testimony at two hearings last week.

As a member of the Living Wage Jobs Committee, I had an opportunity to travel the state during the interim and hear from hundreds of people about this important issue. I am hopeful we can pass a final bill soon so more working Minnesotans are able to provide for themselves and their families.

Read more: http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2014/02/opening-day-rallies-offer-latest-sign-momentum-minimum-wage-hike

Bonding Bill:

I’m optimistic that lawmakers from both parties will work together to pass a strong bonding bill that creates good jobs by repairing and improving state assets like roads, bridges, and buildings at our public colleges and universities. Governor Dayton released his own bonding proposals a few weeks ago, but now the House and Senate will craft our own bills and work out any differences before sending a final version back to the Governor for his signature.

One local project I’m working on is ongoing land and water restoration at Fish Creek in Maplewood. This is a public-private partnership that has already secured $1.9 million in generous contributions from a diverse coalition of partners like the 3M Foundation, Great River Greening, Friends of the Mississippi River, the Conservation Fund, the City of Maplewood, Ramsey County, the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, the DNR, and Minnesota’s Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

State cost estimates for this project come in at $310,000, significantly lower than projects such as a $56 million renovation to a major science building renovation at the University of Minnesota.  The Fish Creek restoration project is an example of where taxpayers can work with the private sector to get a good bang for their buck, while preserving a beautiful asset for the east metro.

Read more: http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/246618951.html

As always, please be in touch with your questions, comments, or concerns.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,

 

JoAnn Ward
State Representative, District 53A

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