For more information contact: Mike Molzahn 651-296-1774
We’re now halfway through the legislative session. Committees are starting to reach their first set of deadlines and soon we’ll be spending most of our time on the House Floor. I’d like to update you on what has been going on at the Capitol.
Congratulations to Johnson High School!
First, while not something that’s happening at the Capitol, I must congratulate Johnson High School’s boys’ basketball team on making it to the State Finals! Congrats Johnson High for making us proud!
Governor’s revised budget released this week
With the February budget forecast showing an even stronger economy in Minnesota, Governor Dayton’s revised budget reemphasizes his commitment to investing in areas that will help average Minnesotans, and not special interests and the wealthy.
The Governor’s budget would invest $10 million in the Housing Job Growth Initiative, a program designed to build affordable housing all across Minnesota where the primary barrier to business growth and job creation is access to affordable housing. This is in contrast to the GOP proposal to expand workforce housing, where they wouldn’t spend a cent in the metropolitan areas of the state.
He increases his commitment to education by proposing free, all day pre-K for every four year old in Minnesota, targeted funding increases for E-12 schools, expanding school breakfast to all children from pre-K to grade 3, and continue the college tuition freeze.
Finally, helps build the middle class by providing tax cuts for working families and for the costs of childcare. In contrast to making strategic investments in Minnesota and targeted tax breaks for the middle class, the GOP is proposing to cut taxes for the wealthy and special interests, which don’t help the economy like the Governor’s budget would.
Taxes are going down for 90% of Minnesotans
We received some good news this week. A report was released that shows that overall tax rates are decreasing for 9 in 10 Minnesotans. The Minnesota Department of Revenue’s annual Tax Incidence Study shows that those earning less than $140,000 will be paying less in overall taxes, as a portion of income, than they did in 2012.
The study attributes the decrease in overall taxes for a few reasons:
First, wages are starting to grow for Minnesotans and are anticipated to outpace growth in new taxes. Second, the budget passed by Governor Dayton and the state legislature has helped middle class taxpayers. While the top 2% of earners will pay more and corporations lost special tax perks, we provided $177 million in direct property tax relief, benefiting nearly 1 million Minnesotans. In addition, our budget cut income taxes for middle class Minnesotans through federal tax conformity, which also benefited more than 1 million Minnesotans.
When you couple this good news with our strong economy and a roughly $2 billion surplus, the Republican claim that the sky is falling in Minnesota just isn’t true. This report is more evidence that we should pursue policies that expand our economy for hardworking Minnesotans, not just the wealthy few.
Oil train safety legislation released
I’m sure you’ve seen the recent news about oil train explosions across the region. A large quantity of oil moves through Minnesota by train, including through Saint Paul along Phalen Blvd.
The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that more than 200 fuel trains will derail over the next twenty years, including 10 in densely populated urban areas. The derailments are projected to cost more than $18 billion and may end up costing people their lives.
With the large amount of fuel traveling through Saint Paul, we should do what we can to prevent a train derailment and explosion here. People in our district deserve to feel safe in their homes and on their commutes.
To address this issue, several bills have been introduced to improve oil train safety in Minnesota. These bills are geared toward reducing the likelihood of a catastrophic fire, improving public safety in general, and providing tax relief to communities to help them fund rail safety improvements at crossings.
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