First, it was the business-to-business sales tax that crashed with a resounding thud. Then it was a proposed gas-tax increase. Now it’s the metro-area transit tax increase that's being pushed aside.
Even electronic pulltabs revenue, which Gov. Mark Dayton approved and signed into law for the Vikings stadium in 2012, is being revisited in search of a Plan B fix.
“Plan B” is becoming the operative term as Dayton acknowledges that tax increases have consequences and can go too far. Of course, some tax proposals could resurface, as happened today with the Senate pushing a sales tax on clothing.
Meanwhile, the state posted a $145 million gain in tax collections (without new taxes) for the month of March.
HOUSE DEMOCRATS UNVEIL K-12 BILL
House Democrats have unveiled a K-12 education finance and policy bill which will spend $15.7 billion over the next biennium. Top components include funding the early learning childhood scholarships Republicans piloted last biennium and increasing the basic funding formula by $209 per pupil. A measure to improve funding equity across districts is in the bill, which would aid districts like Centennial.
The expansion of all-day kindergarten also is in the bill, but is not fully funded. This could force school districts to either subsidize these costs from other areas of their budget or increase class sizes.
New mandates without full funding could outweigh bipartisan measures. The Democrat plan focuses too much on creating new offices and centers that will only serve to expand the bureaucracy and micromanage our school districts. We should be focused on empowering parents, keeping effective teachers in the classroom, and reducing unfunded mandates.
UNIONIZED DAY CARE UPDATE
The bill (HF 950) that would unionize private, in-home child care businesses continues to make its way through the Legislature despite strong objections from families and day care providers all across the state.
On Wednesday evening, I co-hosted a forum to receive feedback from area day care providers, and those in attendance all but unanimously oppose the initiative. They see it as unnecessary and are concerned about how this change would affect work rules and regulations while placing them under new restrictions.
These providers, whose combined years of day care operations totaled 336, said their current trade association already is there to help if needed.
REGIONAL WATER STUDY
A bill I have introduced (HF 1050) on behalf of the cities of Centerville, Circle Pines, Lexington, Lino Lakes, Hugo and Columbus, would fund a feasibility study on possible regional management of municipal water. The bill is advancing and is likely to be absorbed into a Met Council funding request.
The study would allow these six cities to determine the costs and benefits of establishing a regional water system or water and sewer system. The cities anticipate cost savings from sharing personnel and eliminating costs in building duplicative water towers and related water and sewer infrastructure.
As always, I welcome your input on these issues and others as we progress through the session. Your feedback helps me continue doing my best to represent the citizens of District 38A.