A number of local folks have visited me at the Capitol recently and I thank them for taking time to provide me input in person. Members of the Minnesota Extension Service’s Emerging Leadership program from Perham and Rothsay, Perham Future Farmers of America, the Perham hospital, Otter Tail County nursing and West Central Community Action Council are just some of the recent visitors to my office.
Thanks again to those who have made the trip to St. Paul to participate in our legislative process. Your feedback helps me continue doing my best to represent the people of our area.
One legislative committee note from this week is hearing took place for the city of Vergas, which is looking to rectify out a roadway issue by collecting an aggregate tax. The issue pertains to gravel within the city limits and Vergas is looking to collect a tax of 15 cents per ton of aggregate.
While the topics of new gun restrictions and allowing gay marriage continue to be bounced around the Legislature by the majority, I continue to remain focused on budget-related issues. We received more details on two parts of the governor’s budget proposal this week. Here is a quick overview:
GOV’S K-12 BUDGET
A House committee this week reviewed the details of Gov. Mark Dayton's proposed K-12 budget for the next biennium. His bill would increase school spending by $344 million over the next two years with a $52 increase to the per-pupil funding formula. The governor also calls for $44 million to be used in providing opportunity scholarships or “vouchers” that empower parents to send their kids to early childhood programs of their choice.
Dayton's proposal does not pay back $1.1 billion in delayed K-12 payments until 2017. It also does not provide contingency plans if sequestration – the across-the-board federal budget cuts that may go into effect March 1 – takes place as many expect.
GOV'S $3.7 BILLION TAX-INCREASE PLAN MOVING FORWARD
An attempt to permanently end discussions on Dayton’s proposal to raise taxes by $3.7 billion failed in the House this week. Newspaper editorial boards from all across the state have been lining up in opposition to various taxes the governor is proposing.
Our economy is improving and many people are concerned this new batch of taxes could set back our recovery from the recession. A new economic forecast will be issued this Thursday and it will be interesting to see what it tells us. Our economy has produced beyond expectations in each of the last three forecasts, with a combined $2.5 billion in surplus revenue. Another positive surplus would make it even more difficult for those to favor tax increases to make their case.
I will provide details of the new forecast after it is released. Until then, I continue to welcome your input via email at email@example.com.