Thank you to all that participated in the recent online legislative survey I conducted. The input I received is greatly appreciated and along with the many emails, letters and phone calls I also receive, all of which will help me work through decisions on policy and establishing the next two year budget for Minnesota.
There remains a major bias towards using a significant portion of the projected $1.65 billion surplus revenue for tax reform. The most frequent response indicates we should prioritize tax reform and tax reductions (44%). The next most popular answer is split the surplus between tax reform and supporting current state obligations (36%). Only 20 percent suggest we should spend most of the $1.65 billion on adding to existing and starting new state programs.
The survey again validated a favorable attitude toward pipelines including replacement of Line No. 3, which will have a direct impact on our area of Minnesota.
The most definitive response to any question on the survey was 86 percent indicated we should not change existing state policy and issue state driver’s license to people who are in the United States illegally.
Those are just a few highlights. You can find the complete results below. I will also be addressing many of the general comments that were also provided in future email updates. Again thank you for participating and enjoy the great weekend we have ahead of us.
(1) Minnesota is projected to have about a $1.65 billion surplus by the end of the 2018-19 biennium. How should we deal with that surplus?
44.0 % Prioritize tax reform and tax reductions
19.8 % Spend most of it on existing and new state programs
36.2 % Split the surplus roughly 50-50 between tax reform and supporting state obligations
(2) Please select the two most important ideas on what to do with the surplus money:
53.3% Reduce or phase out the state income tax on seniors' Social Security retirement benefits
42.5% Provide additional permanent funding to fix our roads and bridges
28.3% Reduce the state general business tax paid by small businesses in rural Minnesota
18.3% Provide grant money to expand broadband internet service in rural Minnesota
16.7% Spend more on the health insurance programs for those with low incomes
12.5% Spend more on in-home-assistance and group homes for the disabled and the elderly
11.7% Improve our state hospital system for the severely mentally ill
10.8% Provide new public school pre-kindergarten classes for all 4-year olds
(3) Should Minnesota change existing state policy and begin issuing state driver’s licenses to people who are in the United States illegally?
(4) Crude Oil Pipeline No. 3 currently runs through a portion of Aitkin County and generates property tax revenue for the county. It is about 50 years old and is operating at reduced capacity due to age. Should line No. 3 be replaced with a new modern pipeline?
(5) Do you believe that crude oil pipelines can be built and safely operated in Aitkin and Crow Wing counties?
(6) Minnesotans amended the state constitutional eliminating legislator’s responsibility to set their own salaries and gave that authority exclusively to an appointed citizen’s commission. Recently, the commission decided to increase legislative salaries from $31,000 per year to $45,000 per year effective July 1, 2017. Do you agree with the citizens commission’s decision?
(7) Should state constitutionally dedicated tax dollars be used to purchase more public land in our part of Minnesota to provide additional wildlife habitat and outdoor recreational experiences?
(8) Do you believe that minerals such as manganese, copper, nickel, gold and silver should be safely mined in Minnesota, still protecting the environment?
(9) Should all forms of lead hunting ammunition be banned from use for hunting including, upland game birds, squirrel, rabbit, bear, deer, moose and elk?
(10) How would you rate Minnesota’s current gun control laws?
27.7% Too restrictive
24.4% Not restrictive enough
47.9% About right