For more information contact: Andrew Wagner 651-296-2809
I hope you're enjoying the pleasant weather we've had the past several days, and that your summer is off to a good start. It's been nice to have a few days to relax and recharge after the recently-concluded special session, spending time with family and catching up on other work.
I wanted to send along an overview of the budget that has now been signed into law by Governor Dayton, and preview what I hope will be the top priorities for the 2016 session when we return in early March of next year.
Overall, the 2016-2017 budget spends a total of $41.8 billion, up from about $39.7 billion in 2014-2015. The budget spends more than Republicans would have liked, but I'm proud of the fact that we limited proposed spending increases by the Governor and the Senate and ended with a budget that represents the third smallest spending increase in over 50 years. In fact, our 5.6% budget increase is smaller than the 6.9% budget increase proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who has full GOP control of state government.
We were able to limit spending by reducing inflationary increases in Health and Human Services by making bipartisan reforms to MinnesotaCare, and reducing overall spending from 2014-2015 levels in the Jobs and Energy bill, the State Government Finance bill, and the Environment and Agriculture bill.
Our philosophy from the beginning of session was to keep government from growing faster than family budgets. Democrats wanted to spend every penny of our state's budget surplus, and supported using only a small fraction of that money for tax relief.
Republicans fought for a responsible budget that leaves more than $800 million of the surplus unspent for next year, a number that's expected to grow as our economy continues to improve. We hope we can focus that money on tax relief for middle class families, as well as transportation.
Tax relief and transportation are two of our top issues looking ahead to 2016. We know that Minnesotans want a transportation plan that responsibly addresses our roads and bridges without the harmful impact of a gas tax increase, and I will continue standing with Minnesota families against attempts to take more money out of your pockets.
ADDITIONAL LEGISLATIVE UPDATES:
Homeless Youth Act
I was very grateful that funding for the Homeless Youth Act was included in the Health and Human Services bill Governor Dayton signed into law last month. The Homeless Youth Act helps struggling young people and has a proven track record of putting many on the path toward future success. For each young person we're able to help, we're able to save the state countless tax dollars that otherwise would be spent on public programs and other assistance throughout their life. This was a great bipartisan effort, and is a bill that's going to make a positive difference in the lives of many of our most vulnerable citizens in Minnesota.
Veterans Hiring Tax Credit
One provision I hope will be included in the tax bill next year is the Veterans Hiring Tax Credit. A version of my bill was included in the House Tax Omnibus bill to study veteran unemployment and options for a proposed hiring tax credit, opening the door for a full tax credit program in the future. The Senate Tax Omnibus bill included language similar to my original bill.
Both Tax Omnibus bills are currently in a conference committee awaiting further action next session. That gives the legislature the option of starting with the tax bills passed this year or starting from scratch on a new tax bill.
IN THE COMMUNITY:
Tim Wynes Named President of DCTC
Tim Wynes was officially appointed president of Dakota County Technical College by the MNSCU Board of Trustees this week. President Wynes has served as interim president since 2013, and will continue to serve as president of Inver Hills Community College, which he has led since 2010.
AmeriCorps Promise Fellow Week
As a member of the ServeMinnesota board, the Minnesota branch of AmeriCorps, I wanted to let you know that next week is AmeriCorps Promise Fellow Week. Promise Fellows dedicate one year of service to at-risk youth in grades 6-10 who struggle with attendance, behavior, or academics, and have a positive impact on the lives of many children here in Minnesota and across the country. For more information on AmeriCorps Promise Fellow Week, or to find out more information on becoming a Promise Fellow, please click here.
Career & Jobs Fair
Congressman John Kline is hosting a Career & Jobs Fair on Monday, June 22nd from 9AM-1PM at the Eagan Community Center, 1501 Central Parkway, Eagan, MN. More than 80 employers in health care, technology, retail, and other industries will be in attendance. There will be other employment and education institutions and organizations there as well. If you or someone you know may be interested in this event, please pass this information along. You can find full details at http://kline.house.gov/jobs/.
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Meeting
On Monday, June 1st, I attended the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon meeting in Rosemount. This organization assists service members and their families by providing a support network, employment assistance, and other programming.
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is looking for volunteers for three events this summer. If you are interested, please email the contact for each of the events or visit the website for more information: http://www.beyondtheyellowribbon.org/rosemount
• Leprechaun Days Parade (July 18) and Faire (July 24-25). Contact: email@example.com
• Ben Kopp Memorial Ride (July 24-25). Contact: www.benkopp.org
• Bad Apple 21 Annual Golf Tournament (Aug 10). Contact: Karl Xavier firstname.lastname@example.org
Please don't hesitate to contact my office at any time during the summer with comments, questions, or suggestions. You can reach me by email at email@example.com or call my office at 651-296-4306. Follow my updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repannawills or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/annacwills.
I hope you have a great weekend!
State Representative, District 57B
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