By Rep. Joe McDonald
The 2014 session recently concluded and here is a look at some of what transpired:
Scaling Back Taxes
I respect hardworking taxpayers and joined my Republican colleagues by voting unanimously against Democrats’ unnecessary $2.4 billion increase to our taxes and fees so they could increase our All Funds spending by $1,500 for every man, woman and child in Minnesota. It was just a few years ago when Republicans solved a $5 billion budget deficit without raising taxes and decisions we made that year ultimately created a budget surplus.
Democrats took a markedly different approach and ended up taking too much money from Minnesotans last year. Those of us in the minority advocated giving it back to hardworking taxpayers. As a result, the House voted to repeal Democrats’ new taxes on warehousing, telecommunications and commercial equipment repairs this legislative session. That is an improvement, but around $2 billion in unnecessary Democrat tax/fee increases remain on the books.
Caring for Citizens
House Republicans took the lead and demonstrated that caring for Minnesota’s most vulnerable is a priority, prompting Democrats to modify their budget. That action by Republicans secured a full 5-percent rate increase for caregivers for the disabled and older Minnesotans.
Putting People First
We in the minority put public service before self service. In fact, we voted unanimously in opposition to the Democrats’ widely controversial proposals for a $90 million office building for politicians and legislation designed to give lawmakers a pay raise.
Addressing Health Care
We had a strong health care system in Minnesota before Democrats spent $160 million to launch Obamacare in Minnesota (MNsure). We already had programs to assist citizens who lacked insurance or faced affordability issues. Now, with the wobbly launch of MNsure, 1,600 Minnesotans had their private information compromised, 280,000 were forced off health plans they chose with doctors they liked and wait times on the help line exceeded an hour. Enrollment in commercial health plans through MNsure is 82 percent off of what was promised during construction of the program. Improvements may have been in order, but this seems to be taking us backward in a number of ways. Republicans offered answers to some of our MNsure problems, but the majority refused to give them full consideration.
Democrats ignored pleas from small-business owners and approved a legislation that will force a unionization vote on in-home childcare providers. This would take taxpayer money intended to help low-income families and give it to union bosses, while also increasing childcare costs for moms and dads who work outside of the home.
I thank all the local people who remain in touch with me as these and other issues arise. Your input helps me continue doing all I can to represent the fine people of our area.