For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522
The 2013 legislative session is now over! As a freshman legislator, I certainly learned a lot about policy and the legislative process ... not to mention how much I thoroughly enjoyed having met so many of the wonderful people from throughout our district whom I’m privileged to represent.
Given the one-party control of state government and the platform on which I ran, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I’m disappointed with much of what came out of the legislature this year. However, I do feel good about having been true to my word that I would remain committed to my principles as a legislator. I am grateful for the tremendous amount of input and feedback I received from you, my valued constituents, throughout the session and believe the votes I cast were consistent with the will of our district as well.
The two most significant pieces of legislation that the House debated in the final days of the legislative session were the omnibus tax bill [House File 677] and the childcare unionization bill [Senate File 778]. As our state is experiencing an ever-shrinking $627 million deficit, I’m perplexed as to why Democrats felt the need to impose a $2.1 billion tax increase on hard-working Minnesotans. This bill places Minnesota’s tax rate at the second highest in the nation for comparative income and ranks our state at the fourth highest percentage in the nation. Some of the most concerning components of the tax bill include higher income taxes [the new '4th tier' will hit taxpayers throughout our district especially hard], increased sales taxes on commercial warehousing and storage, higher sales taxes for individuals on all internet purchases, an egregious hike in the cigarette and tobacco tax [which will disproportionately hit lower income citizens], and higher business taxes. It is wrong to expect the hard-working taxpayers of Minnesota to pay more in taxes to grow the size of state government. A better approach for Minnesota is a more efficient, effective, and responsible government that prioritizes spending and doesn’t spend more than it takes in. As I've stated repeatedly, it's only fair for government to lives within its means ... just as hard-working families must do!
One of the most controversial bills of the session – the potential unionization of childcare providers and personal care attendants – was debated over a 12+ hour time-frame on each of the final three days of the legislative session. I heard from families and providers within our district as well as from many others throughout the state whose DFL representatives gave them 'the cold shoulder'. The consensus was unanimous - everyone I spoke with told me that they did not want unions getting involved in their independent childcare businesses! Allowing unions to insert themselves in such a way would violate the sacred trust parents have with their childcare provider. Nothing is more precious than our kids – especially those at such a young age. It’s wrong for vulnerable people like children to be caught up in a political power grab by big, public-sector unions intent on securing more money and more union members. I was a proud and solid 'NO' vote on this legislation. Unfortunately, it passed the House with the minimum number of votes  required to pass a bill. You can watch my speech on the House floor opposing this legislation here. I anticipate that a lawsuit will be filed once Governor Dayton signs the bill into law as some labor attorneys believe it conflicts with federal labor law and would, therefore be unconstitutional.
Another issue of importance to me – a sentiment which I know I share with many families throughout our district – is K-12 education. No doubt about it ... we have great public schools in our community – some of the very best in the state and I worked tirelessly to secure our fair share of funding in order to maintain the excellence achieved by each of the schools in our area. When the final education bill landed on our desks, we had virtually no time to read it and received absolutely no information as to how the bill would impact our individual school districts. Knowing what I did about each of the districts I represent and of the re-distribution of resources previously projected in the House version of the bill [from 'property rich' districts to others] – which would have very negatively impacted our schools, our students, and academic achievement – I had no choice but to vote against the K-12 education bill. Our students truly deserve better than this ... especially given the tax burden our families have chosen to bear to ensure excellence in education.
Lastly, I know many of you have questions about the specifics of 'what happened' during the legislative session ... and are anxious to have your questions answered. You can read a wrap-up put together by non-partisan House staff here about the 2013 legislative session.
You can contact me via e-mail at email@example.com. To contact me by phone, call (651) 296-4315. Mail can be sent to Rep. Cindy Pugh, 313 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, Minnesota 55155.
Please encourage your neighbors and friends within the district to sign up for occasional email updates during the interim by clicking here and filling out your contact information. Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you!