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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Duane Quam (R)

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Capitol Update from Rep. Duane Quam

Friday, May 3, 2013

Hello from the State Capitol,

With less than three weeks left in this year’s session, we are working hard to craft a budget for the people of Minnesota. I’ve fought hard this year for a plan that limits spending and keeps taxes where they are, but my Democrat colleagues in the majority are insistent on taxing more to spend more.

Hardworking Taxpayers Prepare for a Hit

Minnesota House Democrats approved the Omnibus Tax bill which will collect billions more from taxpayers over the next two years. Senate Democrats have also passed a plan that will raise more than $1.8 billion through tax increases on income, business property and tobacco, and would also lower the state’s sales tax rate but extend it to clothing, medications, and services like auto repairs and haircuts. A conference committee made up of House and Senate Democrats will now work to create a compromise tax increase proposal that can be approved by both legislative bodies. Combined with the new fees already passed this session, the tax bill collects $3 billion more from our hardworking taxpayers for more wasteful spending and inefficient government programs. This is the largest tax increase on Minnesotans in three decades. Even those making twenty-two thousand per year will see a slight increase because the brackets are shifted. The Senate tax bill even goes as far as hitting Minnesotans with new clothing taxes and personal services like haircuts, oil changes and kids that babysit or mow lawns.

Many of you have contacted me in recent weeks saying you are widely opposed to new taxes on clothing, services, etc., especially for the purpose of expanding wasteful spending.

Child Care Forced Unionization Moves Further

While my legislative survey results are still being compiled, the vast majority of respondents say “no” to forced unionization of our home child care providers. This has been an issue artificially created by special interests and union bosses for the past several years, and despite wide opposition from care providers, it continues on.

A bill that would unionize in-home day care providers in Minnesota cleared its final House committee this week and is expected to arrive soon on the House floor. This controversial legislation would establish a “statewide unit for all family child care providers.” Any licensed or unlicensed child care provider who has received a state subsidy in the past year would be eligible to vote on the collective bargaining unit. A top concern is that even those providers who opt out of joining the union will be forced to pay a fair share union due rate of 85 percent. Advocates of unionization suggest that $300 per year is minimal for union dues.

The vast majority of providers and families who rely on their services continue to object to this proposal because it would increase costs and limit access. A trade association already exists to help these small businesses if needed. This union proposal also would replace parents by making the state the employer of record. This bill prioritizes generating union revenue over the best interests of hard-working day care providers and families.

K-12 Education Bill

I’ve worked hard to offer ideas and solutions for the Omnibus K-12 Education bill, which the House passed last week. The bill is the largest part of our total budget, spending $15.7 billion on our public schools. Our current budget, passed in 2011, provided a 33% increase over the previous biennium, spending $15.5 billion. This year’s modest increase is more than overshadowed by increased bureaucracy and new unfunded mandates instead of investing in the classroom.

I disagree with the Democrats’ action to remove GRAD standard testing from the classroom, and wrote about in the Rochester Post-Bulletin. MCA tests have been used for years and help create one standard for the whole state, but this bill removes them to satisfy school officials in the metro. Again, the issues with a few districts force bad policy onto our local schools. We still need a graduation requirement in our high schools, and I’ll still fight for one.

Have a great weekend.


Duane Quam