For more information contact: Austin Bleess 651-296-5529
Greetings from the Capitol!
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I would like to invite you to attend a Legislative Town Hall Meeting that I will be hosting along with Sen. David Hann. The meeting will take place this Saturday, January 31 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. It will be held in the Eden Prairie City Council Chambers. If your schedule allows I hope you will join us as it will be a great opportunity to discuss the budget and economic challenges facing our state and to hear your ideas and feedback on legislative issues.
Yesterday the Governor released his budget plan for Fiscal Years 2010-2011. This is the first step in what will likely be a long process of developing a budget for the new biennium that addresses the currently projected $4.8 billion deficit. While I am still reviewing the details of the Governorís proposal, it does ensure that Minnesota meets its constitutional obligation to balance the Stateís budget. In recognition of our declining revenues due to the recessed economy, the Governorís budget plan would reduce overall state spending by 2.2 percent from the current biennium. Making sure our state does not spend more money than it takes in is essential to balancing the budget. Itís the common sense approach that Minnesotans take when they balance their own budget to live within their means.
I was pleased the Governor included initiatives in his budget package aimed at stimulating private sector job creation in Minnesota. This is key to our long-term economic recovery. With the news of job cuts and lay-offs increasing around the country, and close to home, we need to make sure that government is not hampering the ability of businesses to survive this recession. Minnesota must be positioned to compete successfully on a regional, national, and global basis when it comes to retaining, and attracting, employers. Unfortunately, some of our current policies serve to tax jobs right out of our State. This trend must be reversed.
The Governor also identified help to the small business sector as critical to our recovery. His plan would offer incentives to small business that reinvest in their businesses. The Governor recommended the creation of a 25 percent refundable Reinvestment Tax Credit for small businesses that reinvest in their businesses in 2009. This credit would encourage entrepreneurs and small business owners to make job-creating investments in their business. As the engine of our economy, a boost to small businesses could go a long way towards creating new employment opportunities in communities across the state.
Reform of state government also received significant attention from the Governor. I believe this is an area ripe for action. We need to be innovative and look at how we can change basic government operations and find more cost effective methods of delivering government services. One way to do this is to allow cities and counties to join together for the purchase of goods they use every day. From buying pens and paper to procuring computers, vehicles, and road salt, government at all levels can reduce its costs by buying together in bulk.
Rooting out government waste or abuse of funds is also important. Last week the legislative auditor's office presented information to lawmakers showing that the stateís auditing controls are "significantly flawed". We need to put some teeth behind the audits ensuring problems found are corrected. These audits should do more than signal a warning, but rather require a plan to make sure these problems are corrected. Furthermore, supervisors and department heads should be held accountable for abuses occurring under their watch.
These are just a few of the proposals that have been offered so far, and Iím sure other ideas will come forward as the Legislature begins its work on a new State budget. I hope to see you at the Town Hall Meeting this Saturday to hear your thoughts and respond to your questions.
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