Last week we received some good news from the Minnesota Office of Management and Budget. For Fiscal Years 2012-13, they are projecting a $295 million positive balance -- in total, that's a $2.8 billion continued surplus. All in all, pro-growth policies and responsible budgeting by Republicans turned a $5 billion budget deficit (February Forecast 2011) into a $2.8 billion surplus (February Forecast 2013).Current law directs $290 million to buy down the K-12 school shift, leaving a balance of $801 million remaining. All in all, GOP has paid $1.9 billion toward the school shift (a large portion of which was from the DFL majorities of the 2009-2010 session). For Fiscal Years 2014-15, we have a significantly improved budget outlook with a $627 million budget deficit. If you remember in November, it was projected to be $1.1 billion budget deficit and two years ago, when Republicans took the Majority, it was projected to be $4.4 billion. Our policies have delivered steady, consistent improvements to the budget outlook. For Fiscal Years 2016-17, they are projecting a $782 million positive balance. In November, that was projected to be just $263 million. With this good news, I believe Governor Dayton needs to go back to the drawing board with budget and eliminate the job-killing tax increases he had proposed. Our state is slowly getting back on the road to recovery, but adding to the already-heavy tax burden for Minnesotans will reverse the progress we’ve made.
I was startled to learn last week that AFSCME and DFL legislators are introducing legislation to unionize childcare providers. I firmly believe that we should not be unionizing these small business owners, most of whom are women, and inserting another layer of bureaucracy between small businesses and the state. Pre-school aged children do not deserve to be caught up in a political power grab to benefit union leadership and their partisan activities.
Another alarming piece of news was when Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans admitted in committee that Governor Dayton’s budget plan would tax babysitting. You can watch the exchange where Commissioner Frans makes that admission by clicking here. Yes, your 13 year old daughter who babysits and your 14 year old son who shovels the neighbor's driveway will have to collect and report sales tax. I am not making this up.
Yesterday, the House took up the Health Insurance Exchange bill. I have significant concerns about this legislation and that’s why I voted against it. The first is the lack of data privacy protection. This bill authorizes the exchange to require consumers provide personal and confidential information that would be shared with state and federal agencies. I also am troubled by the fact that this legislation does nothing to guarantee lower costs, provider greater quality, or even expand access. We were told when the Affordable Care Act passed that all of these things would occur, but nothing in this legislation provides that assurance. In fact, it may even do the opposite. The House will have to vote on this legislation one more time before it goes to Governor Dayton’s desk. I remain skeptical that the conference committee version will convince me to change how I feel about this bill. I plan to continue following this bill closely as it moves through the Senate and comes back to the House.
Minnesota for Marriage will be holding a rally to defend traditional marriage on Thursday, March 7 from 2:00 to 5:00 on the Capitol steps. A bus will be leaving Meadow Creek Church from the southwest parking lot at 1:30. A $5 donation per person is requested to help defray the costs.
I am always interested in your feedback. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at Rep.Peggy.Scott@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-4231. You can also send me mail to my office address: 201 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.