By Rep. Joe McDonald
The Legislature is back at the Capitol after Easter/Passover break, ready to address some important issues down the home stretch of the 2012 session.
Our mission remains to finish our work ahead of schedule this year. Exactly when the session will end remains to be seen, but April is viewed as an unofficial target. We still are working out the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act so we can send it to the governor. Another bill to provide schools with more flexibility in personnel decisions also appears headed to the governor soon. Bills to restore the Capitol and fund infrastructure projects throughout the state are being considered before adjournment. I personally think it would be in order to use some of the Legacy Amendment money to restore the Capitol. Legislation to build a new Vikings stadium also is in the committee process and could be put to a vote this year.
The latter three topics are delicate, since our new majority is working to protect taxpayers and bring our state into a new era of fiscal responsibility. We are still working our way out of a recession and not long ago turned a $5.1 billion shortfall into a $1.2 billion surplus. It is important we adhere to the principles of controlled state spending, creating a more efficient government and protecting taxpayers’ money. Reforms we enacted last year are paying off and now our projected spending is down to $33.8 billion this biennium; that is far less than the $39 billion budget the previous majority had anticipated to spend.
The Job Creation and Tax Relief Act is a top priority for passage before we close out this session. Minnesota’s business climate is among the nation’s worst and this bill (H.F. 2337) would help on a number of fronts. This bill freezes the statewide tax on business property for one year and phases out the statewide tax on business property over a 12-year period. This will benefit small businesses throughout the state, instilling confidence in existing entrepreneurs and helping others to set up shop in our Minnesota keep more of their money. Our unemployment rate is down to 5.7 percent, mainly because we Minnesotans are persistent and determined, and partially because of the certainty the current Legislature is providing businesses.
The citizens of Minnesota have played a huge role in helping inch toward economic recovery by continuing to be a hard-working, self-sufficient group of people. The message they send is simple: Don’t waste our money, stick to the priorities and let us do what we do best – work hard and do our best to raise our families well. Focusing more on helping those who truly need a hand will help us uphold commitments to our children, vulnerable citizens and public safety.
I am proud of the things we have accomplished the last two sessions to get our state pointed in a better direction. But we still can do more to cut the cost of running our state by right-sizing government and further establishing fiscal responsibility. I look forward to a strong finish in the 2012 session and look forward to continuing discussing the issues with local after we adjourn in St. Paul. I always welcome your email email@example.com.