The 2011 legislative was one of choices and priorities. Do we repeat the mistakes of the past that have stifled job creation, squeezed middle class families, and held Minnesota back? Or do we move our state forward by creating jobs, protecting middle class pocket books, and supporting innovation that grows small businesses?
Facing a record budget deficit and struggling economy, it was my priority to work together to reach consensus on a balanced budget that encourages broad prosperity. We worked diligently on behalf of middle class families this session that have been squeezed by rising property taxes, insurance premiums, and state fees over the past decade. That is because broad prosperity is best preserved by fair taxes, strong public schools for our children, affordable college tuition for Minnesota students and their families, access to affordable health care and creating good-paying jobs.
Unfortunately, the Republican’s priority was divisive issues and protecting special interests and the richest 2 percent of Minnesotans. Despite repeated offers of compromise, the Republican majority refused to consider anything except their all-cuts budget despite the impact it would have on middle class families, students, seniors, and the disabled.
In order to protect the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans, here are some of the consequences of the GOP all-cuts budget:
• Increases property taxes by $1.3 billion due to local property tax relief cuts, reduction in the renters’ credit, and the elimination of the Market Value Homestead Credit.
• Eliminates more than 30,000 jobs – most in the private sector.
• Makes deepest cut to higher education in state history, resulting in tuition hikes, decreased course offering, and the elimination of hundreds of staff and faculty.
• Grows the size of K-12 classrooms by cutting K-12 education by $50 million, creates winners and losers for our children with disproportionate cuts across the state, and deeply cuts special education.
• Eliminates health care for 145,000 Minnesotans, reduces services for seniors and the disabled, and significantly cuts hospitals which eliminates jobs and increases the cost of insurance premiums.
• Reduces victims’ services, affecting the availability of domestic violence and sexual assault survivor programs, as well as, services for victims of child abuse.
• Cuts transit services that many with a fixed income—including seniors, the disabled, and students—rely on to get to work, school, the doctor, grocery stores, and church.
I opposed the drastic GOP all cuts budget in favor of a balanced approach that recognizes the need for shared responsibility and broad prosperity. In fact, Tom Stinson, the State Economist, indicated that the Republican all-cuts approach to the budget deficit would be more harmful to Minnesota’s economic recovery than a balanced approach of spending cuts and revenue.
In listening to Minnesotans, it was clear that you preferred we work together, compromise, and get our job done on time. I am disappointed that Republicans were not interested in reaching a compromise to responsibly solve our budget deficit and have thus ended the session with our most important priority unresolved.
I remain committed to securing a budget that moves our state forward instead of in reverse. That means passing a budget that supports middle class taxpayers, grows small businesses, educates our children to compete in a 21st century global economy, and takes care of elderly and disabled Minnesotans.
With our deficit unresolved I also look forward to talking with you about your choices and priorities for our state’s future. Please continue to contact me with your ideas and input.
It continues to be an honor to represent our community in the state legislator.
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 email@example.com, or by sending mail to my office: 229 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155.