For more information contact: DJ Danielson 651-296-8879
Earlier this week I was enrolled in the Legislative Wing of the Minnesota Civil Air Patrol. The CAP has several important missions including aerospace education, disaster relief, and building youth leadership. I want to thank Col. Brent Halweg (with whom I am pictured below) for this honor, and I look forward to working with him on their efforts.
We have less than one week remaining in the 2017 Minnesota Legislative Session with much work remaining in front of us. Despite clear outlines laid out by Gov. Mark Dayton including his priorities, as well as items he objects to, the House and Senate GOP began passing their own partisan budget bills. Considering each of these was destined for a veto, this just served to waste valuable time we could be using to negotiate an agreement on the state budget.
While we will all need to compromise in order to get our work completed on time, to gain my support, any budget must be in line with our state’s values. This includes ensuring our state’s students can have the opportunity for a quality education. We can only make this possible through adequate investments in our classrooms. Unfortunately, even with a $1.65 billion budget surplus, the GOP majority’s education package didn’t even cover inflationary costs, which would lead to teacher layoffs and larger class sizes.
Instead of delivering more resources to schools, the Republicans weighted their budget priorities too heavily toward tax cuts. I think we can all agree that some level of tax cuts for Minnesotans are appropriate. For instance, I’m the chief author of a bill to exempt social security income for state income taxes, and there is momentum to make this happen. Too many other tax breaks though are directed to the rich and well connected, including a massive cut to the estate tax, estimated to benefit the heirs of just 800 Minnesotans.
While time remaining is short, I’m still confident that we will be able to come together with a compromise on these issues. Another issue on which we still need to find agreement, but is moving in the right direction, is a bonding bill to invest in public infrastructure throughout the state. As you may remember, no bill passed last year, leaving a lengthy list of capital improvement needs unmet. For my part, I’ve worked hard on Iron Range area projects like the East Range Water Supply, WLSSD heat and power system, gap funding for Highway 53, and renovations at the Miners Memorial Building in Virginia. The longer we put these investments off, the more expensive they will become, so it’s important for us to come together on a robust bonding bill soon.
I’m encouraged that Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Dayton have resumed meaningful talks about the budget, and earlier today, Gov. Dayton moved even further off of his initial proposal in an effort to compromise. To be sure, we have a great deal of work left, with little time to do it. I’m confident though that if we can put aside partisanship and instead look to the values each of us in this state hold dear, we can get our work done on time and in a manner delivering greater opportunity to everyone.
Please keep in touch with your feedback on any of these issues. I welcome hearing from you any time.