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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Erin Koegel (DFL)

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Legislative Update - December 21, 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dear Neighbors,

A World of Good Wishes. One of the real joys this holiday season is the opportunity to say thank you and wish you the very best for the new year. In spending time with loved ones, there are many opportunities to create special memories full of joy. Soon, 2018 will be upon us, and this time of year also provides an opportunity for both reflection, and to look ahead to what’s around the corner. Here is an update from the State Capitol.

Minnesota: Best Run State

I was pleased to hear that USA Today recently ranked Minnesota the “Best Run State in the Nation.” While bragging can be considered “unMinnesotan,” we have a lot to be proud of with this accolade. The study “highlights Minnesota’s strong fiscal management, low unemployment and poverty rates, above-average median household income, and strong credit rating.”

In 2012, we ranked 10th in this same study, with quality government services and the size of our government very lean. While we have more work to do, we’ve made great progress on the things which make our state wonderful, like our world-class schools, healthy communities, and an economy with plenty of quality, good-paying jobs. I’m committed to protecting this progress and further improving the quality of life for Minnesota families.

Budget Forecast

Unfortunately, not all news in the last month has been good for Minnesota. The latest state economic forecast was recently released, projecting a $188 million budget deficit for the coming session ($302 million when the whole budget is accounted for). This shortfall is projected to grow to $586 million in just a couple of years.

This outlook is largely due to uncertainty at the federal level concerning taxes and health care. We haven’t been able to yet comprehend the recently passed federal tax bill’s effect on Minnesota, and the U.S. Congress has yet to reauthorize critical funding for children’s health care, potentially leaving Minnesota on the hook for $178 million.

Going into the session, Minnesota had a $1.6 billion surplus. In less than a year, with the Republican majority’s budget plan, in which tax cuts for corporations like big tobacco and the wealthiest were prioritized, we’re now facing a deficit. With publications like USA Today holding Minnesota in high esteem for everything we’re doing well, it’s important to ensure our budget remains stable, and not make the mistakes of the past. Looking ahead, we must exercise caution in order to protect the investments which make Minnesota work for everyone.

As we head into the final days of 2017, I want to let you know how much of an honor it has been to serve my community at the State Capitol this past year. I look forward to the work we can do together over the coming year to create opportunities for Minnesotans. Please continue to contact me with your ideas and input.

With the warmest holiday wishes,

Erin Koegel

State Representative

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