Dear Lakeville Neighbors,
The 2021 session is in full, remote swing as bills have started moving through the legislative process as committee meetings kick into high gear. Most days I am still working out of my St. Paul office, but not in committee rooms or the House Chamber.
While this year’s session looks different with meetings taking place virtually, on Zoom, I nevertheless continue to work hard to make sure Lakeville is well represented at the capitol.
In late January, Governor Walz released details of his budget proposal. As a reminder, the legislature and governor are constitutionally required to come to agreement on a balanced, two-year state budget this year. Passing a two-year budget is our main charge and responsibility as a legislature.
Proposing $1.7 billion in tax hikes, growing the size and scope of government, at a time when countless Minnesotans and businesses are still struggling because of government mandated shutdowns is completely out of touch and does not reflect the priorities of Lakeville.
Governor Walz’s proposal is headlined by a 10% hike to Minnesota's top income tax bracket, a 15% hike to Minnesota's business tax, and regressive tax hikes on cigarettes and vaping products that disproportionately hit low-income Minnesotans. Notably, the governor is proposing just 0.3% in cuts ($150 million) out of a $52+ billion budget.
Instead of asking for more from those that he has caused significant economic damage to, the Governor should make sure that state government shares in the sacrifice. That’s why I am committed to working to balance the budget by streamlining spending and reducing government agencies and programs.
I have received some questions and emails from constituents regarding impeachment of the governor. When folks consider this, it is important to remember that if Governor Walz is impeached, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan would immediately become acting Governor.
It would also result in the GOP Senate President Miller automatically being elevated to the Lieutenant Governor position, causing Republicans to lose the Senate Majority, taking away balanced government and Republicans' only tool to hold Governor Walz’s commissioners accountable through confirmation hearings.
House Republicans have voted on more than 10 occasions to strip the Governor of his emergency powers, and have relentlessly kept the pressure on him to roll back his restrictions on restaurants, bars, gyms, and other businesses.
Instead of holding a futile vote to trade one Democrat in the Governor's mansion for another, legislators should keep the focus on securing enough votes in the House to end the Governor's emergency powers and reforming emergency powers laws to make sure no governor can abuse power like Governor Walz has for the last year.
The push for impeachment, might sound and feel good to some, and I am as frustrated with the Governor as most. However, I also find impeachment an amateur proposal and a foolish political attempt to fundraise off you, for their own campaigns. It has a near zero chance of happening.
Last week, I joined with colleagues in fighting to empower school boards, administrators, teachers, and parents to reopen their schools.
My email inbox has been full of messages from parents asking legislators to help get schools open. I agree that these closures are harming students academically and hurting their mental health and emotional wellbeing.
The science and data show that we can safely get our kids back to in-person learning. Local communities know what is best for their students. I am going to keep fighting for local school board and parental control so that our students can return to the classroom as soon and as safely possible when determined by local school boards and administrators.
Locally, I have met with and discussed plans with some of the Lakeville board and Superintendent on how to support the desire to get students back in classrooms full time. The district is having a special board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 16th at 4:30pm. Streaming and on channel 188.
Unfortunately, hybrid learning models weren’t as efficient or effective as hoped. I will support and advocate to the Department of Education a plan to return our students safely to classroom learning, full time. We need parents, administrators and teachers united behind getting kids to where they learn best, in the classroom.
With record low temperatures and as Minnesotans continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, I want you to know that there is still assistance available to income-eligible households (both owners and renters) for home heating bills and furnace repairs. The Energy Assistance Program can help by providing financial assistance:
The application period is open until May 31st, 2021. Click here for more information and to apply: https://mn.gov/commerce/eap.jsp
Be well and let’s continue to be good and kind to each other!
Jon Koznick State Representative