Thank you to all the residents of District 13A who provided me with input throughout the 2019 legislative session and the brief one-day special session that took place stretching into last weekend. Our work is complete and a new state budget is in the governor’s hands for enactment.
It took a little overtime to reach the finish line on the budget after proposals to raise taxes by $12 billion caused a logjam in negotiations. In the end, the overwhelming majority of those tax increases fell by the wayside. It is good we were able to avoid the gas tax, especially since it would have been most damaging to people of lower incomes and the burden would have disproportionately impacted those of us in Greater Minnesota in general
Unfortunately, the governor and the House majority did not allow the 2-percent tax on health care to expire this year as scheduled. We should have let that sunset, but now we will be robbed of those tax savings we could have experienced.
Other high points of the new budget include the first income tax rate cut in decades, mental health support for farmers and $8 million to help dairy farmers cover the costs of a federal Margin Protection Plan insurance program. The MPP-related funding is directed toward smaller, family-type operations with fewer than 750 cows.
The final budget plan also includes 2 percent more K-12 education funding each of the next two years that was approved, with more money to enhance school safety and to cover the rising costs of special education.
As someone who previously served the ROCORI School Board, it is satisfying to see we not only made a strong funding commitment to our children, but also prevented some controversial policies from reaching enactment. From sex ed mandates designed by Planned Parenthood to ill-advised disciplinary policy changes, we kept a number of concerning proposals out of the classroom and I see those as wins as well.
A proposal to cut nursing homes by $68 million also was defeated and a reinsurance program to hold down the cost of health insurance for those on the individual market was extended, two other developments that I see as victories.
In addition, House Republicans successfully negotiated changes that will enhance transparency during next year’s session, including a change to the House committee structure that will increase transparency and fix flaws in the structure implemented this year.
We owe it to our taxpayers to conduct legislative business in full view of the public. The way things played out this year, with billion-dollar decisions being made behind closed doors, does a disservice to people in our state and I look forward to improving the process next year.
Now that the Legislature has adjourned, I look forward to having more time to attend local festivals, public events and meetings in our area. Tomorrow, I will be attending an informational meeting regarding the VIBRANT Broadband service, which will soon be available to people within Meeker Cooperative’s service area (including portions of District 13A). I look forward to this discussion of the opportunities that VIBRANT Broadband will bring to this area.
Next week, I look forward to attending Midsota Manufacturing’s Trailer Safety Event in Avon. Among others, representatives from MnDOT, the State Patrol and a number of elected officials will be on hand. I look forward to learning more about trailer safety and getting a good look at Midsota’s plant. Click here for more.
Look for more on these and other subjects soon. Even though the Legislature adjourned, communicating with constituents is a year-round priority for me, so, as always, your feedback is welcome.