Some updates from this week in Saint Paul:
The Governor's budget came out on Tuesday with broad new taxes on services using a sales tax. While the overall sales tax falls to 5.5%, it will now be applied to services and clothing that people are not accustomed to paying tax on.
The list of goods and services that will be taxed under Governor Dayton's plan was released on Thursday, and it is far reaching. Haircuts, auto repairs, clothing over $100, gym memberships, and personal instruction (e.g. dance, golf, tennis) are just some of the items that you will pay more for if the Governor's plan becomes law. To view the full list of items that would be taxed, click here (.pdf file).
There is a provision in the budget to give a property tax refund of $500; however, it is not clear who will be eligible, and I don't know if this has enough support to clear the legislature.
I was pleased to see that the Governor's budget did address educational spending and made an adjustment to the school formula. Here is a quick summary:
There is a $118 million formula increase of $52 per pupil (1%)
$40 million for Optional All-Day everyday Kindergarten
$124 million in Special Ed funding (3%)
$44 million in Early Learning Scholarships
Delay school shift payback until 2017
The general consensus is that schools in District 9B will see more educational dollars and that this plan will help relieve the need for more levy dollars. While I am encouraged by the Governor's commitment to education, I am concerned that there are no fundamental reforms included that would address the funding disparity between Metro and Greater Minnesota schools.
I talked to a number of constituents in the district with various issues, and please know that I am happy to help out with issues. This office is the office of the people, and I am pleased to be available.
Because of Federal Law, the MN Health Exchange is coming. It is certainly better that we design our own plan to leverage our excellent MN healthcare system, but we still need to be thoughtful and prevent the healthcare exchange from becoming a "super government entity".
Right now the current bill does not provide enough consumer oversight nor does it provide enough checks and balances for a issue this important.
Have a great weekend,
State Representative, District 09B