Merry Christmas, happy Hanukah and a blessed New Year to you from the McDonald family. May you enjoy comfort and the warmth of loved ones this joyous season.
Things are simmering at the Capitol as legislators spend the holidays at home, but the pace will soon pick up as we get closer to the Jan. 6 start of the new session. The last housekeeping pieces are falling into place in the House, including receiving full committee assignments. My list includes: Taxes; Property Tax & Local Government Finance Division; Higher Education Policy & Finance; and Health and Human Services Finance. I will serve as vice chair of the latter.
This is a good mix, allowing me to work on a wide variety of very important topics. Two of my assignments relate to taxes, so I will provide food for thought by passing along Minnesota’s national ranking in a few tax categories:
Highest per capita income tax burden: 5th
Highest corporate income tax rate: 3rd
Heaviest business property tax burden: 5th
Highest sales tax rate: 7th
Those are some areas we can explore with a new Republican House majority. The importance of fiscal responsibility is emerging in our nation, with a wave of conservative people winning state and national offices. This is a positive sign, but we must not rest on our laurels. It is our responsibility to get the job done and leave our state – and our nation – in better condition than we found it upon election.
This includes taking care of friends and neighbors who are less able to provide for themselves. Reports show Minnesota welfare spending is fifth-highest in the nation. We need to make sure those dollars are being spent in the ways they are intended and that we are maximizing each. My work with Health and Human Services will encompass that, especially regarding MNsure. State officials recently lowered projected enrollment figures yet again, putting taxpayers in jeopardy for another ding down the road to support MNsure. Some may wish for a full repeal, but now our energy is best spent trying to make improvements in the name of greater efficiency, transparency and accountability.
As for higher education, a subject I’m looking forward to addressing is the skills gap we see in our state. Too many quality jobs are going unfilled because there is a lack of qualified candidates. We need to figure out a better way of matching training with real-world opportunities.
Please send along your thoughts on how we can improve any of these areas. Contact my office if you would like to set up a Capitol visit during the upcoming session. My door always is open!
All my best,