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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe McDonald (R)

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Bill to help local schools

Thursday, February 16, 2012
To the editor, A bill I authored to provide local school districts with budgetary flexibility was warmly received by a House committee recently. My bill (H.F. 1913) would provide Delano and Rockford districts with one-time approval so they can transfer funds from one account to another to complete necessary projects. Delano’s objective is to use $235,000 for needed boiler work. Rockford is seeking to use $525,000 for essential roof repairs. My legislation allows the district flexibility in shifting that money from its debt-redemption fund to an operating capital account without making a levy reduction. Normally, these school districts would be required to return their excess funds to the taxpayers, only to have to turn around and ask for the money back for these important projects. The proposal I authored is all about local control. It eliminates hoops our schools would have to jump through to complete this responsible, necessary work in a timely, efficient manner. It’s not as if they are purchasing jet skis or building funhouses. I am optimistic this legislation will continue to receive support at the Capitol and ultimately be enacted. But it is a long legislative process and I will continue pushing to cross the finish line. Another bill worth watching prevents union deductions from state childcare assistance payments. This measure (H.F. 1766) passed the House and was sent to the Senate for its action. The bill’s intent is simply to make sure the tax dollars we provide for childcare assistance stays with those who care for children. It is important to note our legislation does not prevent providers from using the subsidies they receive for union dues if they wish to join a union. We are only making sure providers have the freedom to decide this for themselves. This bill is a necessary response to Gov. Dayton's executive order calling for a vote on whether to unionize privately owned daycare businesses which receive subsidies. The vote was scheduled to occur last December, but a judge raised red flags over the governor’s order and temporarily suspended the vote. This is one of those bills I wish we did not have to pass, but we need to insulate providers, families and taxpayers from a union attempt to tap into another taxpayer revenue stream. Providers should be able to decide how to apply subsidy money they receive, not have it snatched ahead of time. Our top objective in St. Paul is to relieve burdens that hinder our families and businesses as we work to get our economy on track. This legislation fits that mold. Sincerely, Rep. Joe McDonald
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