For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875
Yesterday marked the beginning of the 2014 Legislative Session. I’m honored to be back at our state capitol serving as your voice and working to solve the big challenges facing our state.
Minnesota made important progress last year. Employers added over 45,000 jobs, bringing our unemployment rate down to 4.6 percent – one of the lowest rates in the country. The Legislature balanced our budget in a way that is honest and fair, without using gimmicks.
Lawmakers paid back the “school shift” and made new investments in education like all-day Kindergarten and a two-year college tuition freeze. Thanks to our talented workforce, outstanding businesses, and strong fiscal management at the state capitol, Minnesota now faces a budget surplus of $1.2 billion.
Our positive economic outlook provides new opportunities to build on our progress by helping individuals, families and businesses who have not felt the recovery. With Minnesota's fiscal house on solid footing for the first time in years, we are well positioned to provide additional middle class tax relief and fund important priorities like expanding the hot lunch program for low-income children to ensure no student ever goes without a warm meal at school.
In the weeks ahead, we need to cut taxes for middle class Minnesotans by enacting federal tax conformity, which would simplify our state tax code and remove burdens like the “marriage penalty.” We also need to repeal three new business-to-business taxes. Thanks to the budget surplus, we can pay for this important tax relief and maintain a structurally balanced budget into the future.
Next, we can create good jobs by passing a strong, bipartisan capital investment bill that repairs and improves state assets like roads, bridges, and buildings at public colleges and universities. I’m authoring legislation to fund much-needed repairs and improvements at Century College to make sure we provide a top-notch learning environment for students.
I also remain focused on addressing regional challenges such as the water level decline at White Bear Lake.
Our new state budget provides more resources for surface and groundwater monitoring, helping to provide the data we desperately need to develop a solution that stops the water decline, restores the lake level, and prevents shortages at other bodies of water. In addition, I passed legislation last year that makes sure all water users (public and private) are treated equally and follow the same set of rules.
My bill to establish a bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Water Commission that would regularly meet to review data and reports from state agencies and make policy recommendations to the entire Legislature passed the House last year and awaits a vote in the Senate. I also convened regular meetings during the interim with the public, state lawmakers, local mayors, county commissioners, the Metropolitan Council, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and other government officials to begin forging a sustainable groundwater management strategy for our region.
I’ll continue those conversations and provide you with progress updates in the months ahead. Finding a solution is critical to ensuring economic growth in our region over the coming decades. It remains one of my top priorities.
I’m also concerned about our region’s lack of access to transit. That’s why I’m proud to be partnering with our business community, local governments, and non-profit organizations to support efforts like the East Metro Strong initiative, a bold plan to make the kinds of coordinated investments in transit and economic and community developments needed to create jobs and help our businesses thrive.
As always, please contact me by phone at (651) 296-5363 or by email at email@example.com to share your questions, comments, and ideas as the 2014 Session continues.