In the final week of this difficult session, the wasteful spending, examples of government overreach, and increasing consumer costs are mounting...
WASTEFUL SPENDING = 1,300 NEW GOVERNMENT JOBS
Hidden in the pages of the spending bills, we come across this: state government will be growing by nearly 1,300 new full-time government jobs to support new government programs. Do the math. Take 1,300 x $50,000 annual pay and benefits (that's minimum) and you get $65,000,000. That's a lot of government growth, and taxpayers will be footing the bill forever. I guess that partially explains why they want to raise taxes and fees by $3 billion.
GOVERNMENT OVERREACH IN OUR SCHOOLS
This week, House Democrats passed a bill requiring schools to create anti-bullying policies. Never mind that current law already requires schools to do this. This bill is much more prescriptive in its mandates, leaves too little discretion to the local level, and opens schools up to unintended consequences, i.e., lawsuits. A state-run School Climate Center would oversee compliance. This unfunded mandate is projected to cost up to $50 million per biennium statewide, with smaller school districts likely to see higher costs than larger districts.
We in the minority offered a number of amendments to increase transparency and empower parents, but the majority blocked them. One good amendment would have required that parents be notified if the school district refers their child to “community resources,” but the majority sided against parents and students.
HIGHER ENERGY COSTS
Possibly the most damaging bill to Minnesota's jobs sector and economic vitality is the Energy Bill passed this week. It increases the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) from the current 25 percent for Xcel Energy (and other investor-owned utilities) to 40 percent. In addition, it applies a mandate that an additional 4 of their energy must be produced from solar.
These standards will be nearly impossible to reach. Solar energy production is in its infancy, the installation of solar is costly (that's why large subsidies are included), and like wind, it's an intermittent energy source requiring expensive back-up power sources. This will raise the cost of energy for all, including our industrial and commercial sector. Keep in mind that production of solar costs $200/megawatt while the cost of wind (not inexpensive either) is $40/megawatt. Energy-intense industries will have difficulty staying competitive with these super-sized costs of doing business.
Yesterday was another historic day at the Capitol as House Democrats (with four Republicans supporting ) passed a bill that would redefine marriage in Minnesota. A recent Star Tribune survey shows only 38 percent of Minnesotans support redefining marriage. I voted against this proposal.
With just more than one week left until session adjournment, we're still a long way from knowing how we're going to balance the state budget, what taxes will be increasing and how the state will become supporting of growing jobs. Stay tuned...