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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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Capitol Update - March 7, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011
Last week at the Capitol was filled with several major storylines, namely the February forecast from the Minnesota Management and Budget Office early in the week, and then the Republican budget shenanigans on the House and Senate floors at the end of the week. On Monday, February 28, the Minnesota Management and Budget Office released its February forecast. Their analysis showed that the projected budget deficit had shrunk $1.2 billion, from $6.2 billion to slightly over $5 billion due to an increase in capital gains, not an increase in jobs. The fact that jobs are still not coming back in rapid numbers is the main reason our budget shortfall exists. Governor Dayton responded immediately to the revised forecast, and removed or reduced some of his painful proposed cuts. The governor reduced his proposed cuts to nursing homes, MinnesotaCare, community action grants, long-term care, and mass transit. Governor Dayton also eliminated the 3 percent surtax on incomes over $500,000 a year. I’m very pleased that the governor revised his budget proposal and now I’m looking for the Republicans to release their plan. They have promised time and time again that they can balance the budget solely through cuts. They have said time and time again that they don’t need revenue to balance the budget — that includes taxes and fees. Now that the governor’s plan is out and the forecast has been released, it’s time for them to put their cards on the table. When they finally do release their plan, we can have an honest discussion, contrast the two plans, and decide the future direction of our state. Now while the Republicans should have been working on their budget proposals, they choose to spend the end of the week on a glorified legislative stunt. Republicans choose to bring Governor Dayton’s revenue proposals to the floor of the House and Senate, forcing a vote. Rather than offering their plan, they chose to play political games on a budget that is outdated — due to the revised forecast — in an attempt to seemingly embarrass the governor. In the last election, Minnesotans went to the polls to tell us to knock it off and work together. I’ve heard it time and time again: Minnesotans have asked us to openly and candidly lay out our plans so that they can see them and make a choice, based on their values and about what is best for our state. They’ve asked us to be honest, keep our promises and do what we said we were going to do. Governor Dayton has kept his promises and he’s been honest. Now it’s the Republicans turn. We have too many problems and too many tough decisions to be playing political games. I look forward to the Republicans finally getting to work so we can have a real, honest discussion about balancing this budget. As always, please feel free to send me your suggestions, questions, comments or concerns. You can reach me by phone at (651) 296-3751, by email at rep.michael.nelson@house.mn, or by sending mail to my office: 229 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155. Michael Nelson State Representative District 46A