To the editor,
I’d like to take a moment to thank all the people who participated in the Walk for Glendalough event last weekend to raise nearly $10,000 for Glendalough State Park in Battle Lake. That is a great event and the funds it generates are very helpful in keeping the park the local gem it is. It is impressive how Walk for Glendalough – this was its 18th year – has remained so strong this long.
On another note, Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen and I plan to host town hall meetings in the district after we adjourn from the 2014 session. We will recap what transpired this year and provide our insight on any issues people want to address. The session is scheduled to end May 19 and I will pass along the town hall details once we have them in place.
One of the headline items from the Capitol this week is that Gov. Mark Dayton gave is State of the State Address Wednesday night in the House chamber. He ran through a laundry list of things he deems to be accomplishments this session and last, things he wants to take credit for doing. These speeches do tend to get political and sometimes I’m taken aback by how statesmanship takes a back seat amid all the whooping and hollering from whatever side of the aisle supports the message.
It was interesting that, in his speech, Dayton mentioned increasing spending in a capital investment bill (aka the bonding bill). This would fund construction projects throughout the state. An agreement was reached last year to do a bill of around $850 million this session. The governor now is not honoring that deal and wants to bond for $1.2 billion. The problem with that is votes from Republicans are necessary to reach the super majority required to pass a bonding bill. A $1.2 billion price tag is unlikely to generate widespread support from the minority and I urge the governor to trim that price tag back to the agreed-upon figure.
The governor also addressed the state’s recovering economy. There has been marked improvement since the former Republican majority inherited a $6 billion shortfall in 2011. The budget we passed erased that shortfall, got us pointed in the right direction and now we have a $1 billion projected surplus. During his speech, the governor seemed to take credit for that turnaround even though he was highly critical of the budget as he signed it into law.
The results are indisputably positive and now the governor has jumped on board. As I told reporters after the speech, it would have been nice to see him give credit where credit is due.
Time will tell whether the $2.4 billion in new taxes and fees they passed last year will tamp down our economic growth. Dayton touted tax reductions enacted this year, but the vast majority of last year’s historic increases remain. It concerns me this will have negative consequences. The Tax Foundation ranks our state’s business tax climate 47th-worst in the nation and falling (we are down two spots from last year).
With the session winding down, I encourage citizens to contact me if there are any issues they would like to discuss before we adjourn. One thing I am hearing from people recently is they want to suspend the wolf-hunting season. We need to make sure the DNR is doing well in monitoring the population to ensure we can strike a balance between managing the population while maintaining healthy numbers. I’ll keep you up to speed with any developments on this subject.
Rep. Bud Nornes