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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Before we turn the calendar from 2015 to 2016 in a few short days, I wanted to update you on the latest news from your State Capitol and note the issues that will likely dominate the legislative session next year.
HIGHLIGHTS IN THIS UPDATE:
• Budget Surplus
• Town Hall
• Happy Holidays!
On December 3, the Minnesota Office of Management and Budget released their economic forecast, projecting a $1.871 billion surplus for Fiscal Years 2016-17. More than $800 million of the surplus is money the House majority insisted be reserved from last session’s budget bills to put towards tax relief and a transportation package when the legislature reconvenes. Under state law, $594 million of the total surplus will be added to the state budget reserve leaving just over $1.2 billion for legislators to designate for top priorities when they come back into session this March.
With this substantial surplus, my number one priority is tax relief. Last session, I supported a $2 billion tax relief bill that would help families, aging adults, college students, veterans and small businesses in our community. From ending the income tax on social security and military pensions to new education deductions for families with young children and expanded research and development tax credits for entrepreneurs, this tax legislation would have benefited Minnesotans statewide, spurring economic growth and leaving more of your hard-earned money in your pocket. Unfortunately, this substantial tax relief package only passed the House during the 2015 session, and is pending in a conference committee with the Senate to work out a final package. The conference committee is poised to resume action when the legislature reconvenes in March, and I am hopeful robust tax relief will be enacted in 2016.
Wrangling over a gas tax increase also stymied much needed action on a comprehensive transportation infrastructure bill last session. Fortunately, when the new budget forecast was released, Governor Dayton announced that his previous plan to insist on a significant tax increase on the wholesale price of gas was “dead.” This is good news, as the unpopular gas tax proposal would have cost Minnesota families more than $9 billion dollars, and could have created a drag on our economic growth.
Now I am optimistic both sides can come back to the table and pass a package much like the $7 billion, 10-year transportation plan the House Republicans crafted that would fix more than 15,500 lane miles of roads and 330 bridges statewide by utilizing existing resources.
I always love hearing from you about your priorities for state government. Early next year, I will be co-hosting a town hall meeting with Senator David Hann to preview the 2016 legislative session, answer questions and receive feedback about legislative priorities from Eden Prairie residents. The details are below. Please mark your calendar, and I hope to see you there!
What: Legislative Town Hall with Rep. Jenifer Loon and Sen. David Hann
Date: Saturday, January 23rd
Time: 10:00-11:30 AM
Location: Eden Prairie Library, Large Meeting Room
565 Prairie Center Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
The holidays are fast approaching, and I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope you're having a joyous holiday season, spending time with loved ones and creating wonderful memories. Happy Holidays to you and your family!
If I can be of any assistance to you with a state government matter, please feel free to contact me. I also welcome your views, questions and suggestions on issues of interest or concern. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call my office at 651-296-7449. I look forward to hearing from you!
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