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

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BUDGET FORECAST SHOWS IMPROVEMENT BUT CHALLENGES REMAIN

Friday, December 2, 2011
Dear Neighbor, Today, Minnesota Management and Budget announced that the state has an unexpected $876 million surplus for the rest of this biennium. Current law states that the surplus must go to the state’s cash flow account and budget reserves. The surplus is the result of increased tax collections from improved job growth and wages, and savings in Health and Human Services. The savings in HHS resulted from fewer people enrolling in Medical Assistance, reforms from the federal health care law, and reforms passed by the DFL majority in 2009 and 2010. The surplus also shows that our economy is moving in the right direction, albeit slowly. More people are back to work, and therefore paying taxes. Today’s announcement was certainly welcome news and a step forward, but the Republican majority’s irresponsible budget had already taken us two steps back. This surplus is the equivalent of finding a $20 bill in your pocket, but the remembering that you’ve maxed out your credit card and your house needs a new roof. Republicans have borrowed billions from our schools and children with no plan to pay it back, forcing them to take funds out of the classroom to borrow to cover their loss. Republicans eliminated the Homestead Credit, raising property taxes for many Minnesota families and small businesses. And for the first time ever, Republicans allowed Minnesota to engage in Washington DC-style deficit spending, raiding out state’s future revenues by selling tobacco bonds — essentially paying for part of the budget deficit with the state’s credit card. Republicans proposed it. Republicans voted for it and passed it. They cannot deny their responsibility for it. In total, the Republicans have left us with $4.2 billion in debt and deficits. It’s time for a return to responsible budgeting. We have tremendous obstacles to future prosperity that we must address: a shrinking middle class, reduced research and development, an aging population, and an education system that isn’t preparing enough students for the world economy. We can’t tackle any of these problems without sound state finances. Thank you for the honor of continuing to serve you in the state legislature. 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