Several late nights this week with many bill hearings to meet deadline in the various finance committees. This week also included release of the House Republican transportation plan and the House Republican proposed budget targets for the next two-year state budget.
Town Hall Meetings Scheduled
Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer and I are co-hosting four town hall meetings next Tuesday and Wednesday, and we invite residents to attend any of the four. Town hall meetings are a great opportunity for open conversation as Sen. Kiffmeyer and I enter the remaining weeks of the 2015 legislative session. Feedback from the community is extremely valuable and we look forward to hearing from everyone regarding concerns and priorities.
The schedule for the town hall meetings is as follows:
Tuesday, March 31 town hall meetings
403 Central Ave E, Saint Michael, MN 55376
Wednesday, April 1 town hall meetings
9020 Quaday Avenue NE, Otsego, MN 55330
11025 61st Street NE, Albertville, MN 55301
The River Inn
11220 River Road NE, Hanover, MN 55341
Transportation Plan Released
House Republican transportation plan released this week is a 10-year, $7 billion package. Known as the Road and Bridge Act of 2015, the plan focuses on repairs, upgrades, and replacement of an approximately 15,500 lane miles for roads and 330 bridges statewide WITHOUT RAISING TAXES.
A key component of the Republican transportation package is redirecting existing taxes collected on the sale of auto parts from going to the state General Fund to what would be a newly created Transportation Stability Fund dedicated to spending on roads and bridges. Reports show this would redirect up to approximately $250 million per year be spent on roads and bridges in near term, and will grow to even more in the long term of the 10-year plan.
Other key components of the 10-year plan include using $1.3 billion in Trunk Highway bonds, $1.2 billion from realigning Minnesota Department of Transportation resources, $1.05 billion in General Obligation bonds, and $228 million in General Funds.
The Republican plan is a stark contrast to the Democrat plan to raise the gas tax by 6.5 percent to pay for transportation work, including more light-rail transit.
Minnesotans consistently reiterate the need for better roads and bridges without raising taxes. The Republican House plan does just that! With a $2 billion surplus, the Democrat plan demanding more and more tax increases on the backs of hard-working families demonstrates just how out of touch Democrats are.
Budget Framework Released
Also this week, House Republican leadership released their proposed framework for the next new two-year state budget. The overall spending proposal is $39.9 billion with $2 billion in tax relief and $100 million slated to be put into reserves.
By contrast, Gov. Dayton’s proposed spending is $43 billion and does not place money any money in reserves AND increases taxes.
The Senate Democrat budget proposal was released this morning and, at $42.7 billion, it nearly matches the governor's proposal in overall spending. We now have the three budget proposals necessary to start working toward an overall agreement before adjourning in May.
Please stay in touch and let me know your thoughts on these or other issues. Again, the town hall meetings would make for a good way to discuss legislative matters in person and I hope you can attend.