Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we await a special session, I wanted to provide an update on what’s going on at the Capitol. On Sunday, the governor and legislative leaders reached an agreement on an outline for the state’s budget. This compromise came too late, however, as the legislature adjourned (as constitutionally required) on Monday night without approving legislation to fully fund state government for the next two years. Without legislative approval of funding, a special session will be required to ensure state government doesn’t shut down later this summer.
Legislative leaders have indicated that a special session will begin either this weekend or next week. Although the budget’s basic framework was agreed upon Sunday, details of funding for each area, as well as specific policy provisions, are still in the process of being worked out.
Transparency/Legislative Process Concerns
This is a process that should be carried out by legislators from around the state who have been elected by Minnesotans to authorize funding and make laws. It should also be done in public, where the process is transparent and citizens can weigh in. However, the opposite is currently happening. The governor and his commissioners, as well as two legislative leaders, are continuing to make nearly all of the decisions surrounding our state’s budget and policies. What’s more, they’re making these decisions in secretive, closed-door meetings without the public knowing what’s happening.
The governor and his commissioners should be involved in the legislative process by offering their opinions regarding what they want legislation to look like, but it’s the responsibility of the legislature to put together the bills and send them to the governor. If the governor isn’t pleased with what arrives on his desk, he can always veto them.
Legislators from every corner of the state have election certificates, meaning Minnesotans’ have indicated they want them legislating and making these decisions - not a small, all-powerful group of people. The way things are playing out this year, these few people currently have far too much power. As a representative democracy, this isn't the way our government should operate.
Minnesotans deserve better than this and I’m hopeful the transparency surrounding this process will improve in the future. If it doesn’t, and all the decisions continue to be made by a few people, what’s the point of having a legislature comprised of 201 elected individuals?
Gas Tax Out, Sick Tax In
Regarding the budget agreement that has been reached, there is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the proposal to raise the gas tax by 20-cents per gallon – a 70% increase – has been taken out. We know that this was an unnecessary tax hike that would’ve made living and driving more expensive for families in our community and around the state. Many of you reached out to share your concerns about the damage this would do to your budgets, so I’m pleased to report that you won’t be facing higher gas taxes this year.
On the other hand, I’m disappointed that the sick tax – a tax on nearly all healthcare services in Minnesota – will be continued and not phased out. This tax was set to disappear at the end of 2019 and its reinstatement is estimated to add about $2 billion to the cost of healthcare in our state. Unfortunately, this tax makes healthcare more expensive, and it disproportionately hurts the sickest Minnesotans who go to the doctor the most.
“Movies in the Park” will take place tomorrow night (Friday, May 24) in Coon Rapids at Sand Creek Athletic Complex (1008 Northdale Boulevard). The movie starts at 8:30pm and is free for your whole family to enjoy. More information can be found here.
Also, best of luck to all the area sports teams as playoffs for many sports are getting underway next week!
Please Contact Me
As always, I encourage you to please contact me with any questions or input by phone at 651-296-4231 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.