To the editor,
A few recent implications in commentaries and letters regarding House Republicans' prioritization of issues that benefit Greater Minnesota need some clarification.
First, let me remind folks that we passed a comprehensive nursing home rate payment reform that greatly aided our rural nursing homes. Also, remember that we operate under a biennium and the current one is far from a finished product.
Greater Minnesota will benefit from a 2016 bonding bill that focuses on our infrastructure needs (local roads, bridges and water). We also need to do a tax bill that contains tax relief while addressing our Local Government Aid needs.
The opportunity to do a significant transportation bill improved when Gov. Mark Dayton dropped his request for a gas tax increase. Last session the House did pass a 10-year, $7 billion transportation plan using our surplus, bonds and rededicating current revenue from transportation-related sales taxes. That package remains in a conference committee and is still ready to move at any time.
Significantly more money needs to go into broadband for the internet. In the 1930s, a gulf grew between towns and rural Minnesota because towns had electricity and the countryside didn't. I don't want to see a similar chasm continue with broadband.
Minnesota has a 1.9 billion budget surplus through June of 2017. By law, one-third of this goes into our state's reserves. That still leaves around $1.2 billion, which can be returned to people in the form of tax relief and also can be used to pay for things we need to help rural Minnesota and our state thrive.
We are only half way through the legislative term and have time to address important issues such as those mentioned in this letter. As always, I welcome input from area citizens regarding what we can do to help people in Greater Minnesota.
Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township