Greetings from the Capitol!
Week 1 of the 2013 legislative session is coming to a close. Here are some tidbits as the 88th Legislature gets down to business in St. Paul.
A $2.5 billion surplus
Our state’s economic outlook is significantly better today than it was before Republicans took control two years ago. Surplus revenue totaling more than $2.5 billion was generated since fall of 2011 due to Republicans' spending reductions and restructuring – all without raising taxes. A report just issued by Minnesota Management & Budget indicates our state’s revenue was $114 million more in November and December than previously forecast.
This excess revenue has allowed the state to replenish its cash and reserve accounts and to pay back delayed school payments, also called the “school shift” which stretched out school funding payments over 28 months instead of 23.
K-12 shift is paid off
Our local school districts, Centennial and White Bear Lake, as are all state schools, receiving repayment of the delayed school funding now through June 30th. Centennial will receive $9.3 million, and White Bear Lake will receive $10.3 million. In addition, the state was been able to pay off around half of the school debt we inherited from the previous Democrat majority.
The first bill introduced by the new House Democrat majority this year proposes to pay off half of the remaining $1.1 billion balance to schools. The bill is nearly identical legislation House Republicans passed last year but which Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed last spring. The Democrats’ latest bill makes no mention of where the funds would come from to pay back this debt. Also worth noting, the governor has repeatedly stated that he will not accept a piecemeal approach to the state budget.
My top responsibility will be serving as minority lead on the Transportation Policy Committee in addition to which I'm a member of the Property and Local Tax Division and the Taxes Committee. I've also been appointed to serve on the Legislative Commission on Metropolitan Government.
Representing District 38A
Due to redistricting changes, the area I represent now is District 38A. The district includes cities in Anoka County (Circle Pines, Lexington, Lino Lakes, Centerville and parts of Blaine as well as one city in Washington County Hugo).
Stay in the loop
I will be sending periodic email updates throughout the session as issues develop. There also are a number of helpful online resources provided by the state. Here are a few links with great information:
Minnesota House of Representatives: http://www.house.mn
Session Weekly: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessionweekly
Session Daily: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/sdaily.aspx
TV coverage: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/htv.asp
Streaming video: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/schedule.asp
How a bill moves to law: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/leginfo/How_a_bill.pdf
As always, I invite input from local citizens. Your correspondence will help me continue doing my best to represent the people of this area. The best way to reach me during the legislative session is by emailing email@example.com.
Have a great weekend,