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Things here at the Capitol are full speed ahead as we are getting closer to the end our first month in the 2011 Session. I’ve been hard at work representing our community. This week was no different as we saw a lot of exciting events take place. I am pleased to share that the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs has a new Commissioner. Governor Dayton has appointed retired Major General Larry Shellito to head the department. The Major General’s leadership and advocacy on behalf of service members, their families and Veterans makes him a wonderful choice. For more information on the Major General, please read more the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs website.
In addition to meeting the new Commissioner, we are working to tackle the state’s budget deficit. With the introduction of the Early Action Budget Bill, we need to take immediate action in reducing the state’s out of control spending. By looking at the structural causes of our ballooning state deficit, we can work together to set clear, responsible priorities for government living within its means. This bill sets out to reduce wasteful agency spending and forcing state agencies to be accountable to the tax payer. We look to:
• Give Finance Commissioner authority to reduce agencies by $200 million in the current budget.
• Set a priority that K-12 education, special education, and colleges and universities cannot be reduced
• Prevent a “Christmas in June” where agencies spend extra money on non-essential items in order to show they shouldn’t be reduced
• Make the one-time reductions (unallotments) from 2010 permanent
• Reduce the deficit by removing $840 million of automatic increases set for next year.
• Reduce funding for the Legislature.
• Set Local Government Aid at current levels while leaving the current formula in place.
This Thursday the House will bring the Early Action Budget bill to a vote on the House floor. I look forward to representing community as we work to create a fiscally responsible government.
I continue to enjoying serving on the following committees: Health and Human Services Finance, Health and Human Services, Reform State Government Finance, and Veterans Services Division.
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