Thursday, September 21, 2017

News

Greetings from the Capitol!

We are in the home stretch of the 2013 session and bills to set a new state budget for the next two years remain works in progress.

May 20 is the scheduled date of adjournment. Since the majority has yet to unveil a finished budget, we will be working through the weekend. It will be a daunting task to get a budget in place before the deadline. It concerns me these important bills will be rushed to passage with a lack of transparency if the majorities are unable to bring them to our respective floors soon.

 

We heard last weekend that Democrats majorities in control of the House and Senate had settled on a budget with the governor, but they have yet to provide details on most of the budget. Only a couple of bills that make up relatively small portions of the budget have received final passage.

We also are awaiting full details of the majorities’ tax plan. We received word last night they are settling on a $2 billion tax increase. This would give Minnesota the nation’s fourth-highest top income tax bracket (9.85%), raise taxes on cigarettes by $1.60 per pack and implement portions of the business-to-business tax the governor earlier abandoned after receiving significant backlash. This will increase costs for businesses across our state, resulting in higher prices for consumers.

I recently conducted a survey throughout District 57A to get constituents’ thoughts on some of the major issues we are facing late this session. Nearly two-thirds of all respondents say we should not increase spending to the levels being proposed. A 54-percent majority favors spending reductions in order to balance our budget. Only 10 percent support tax increases and 36 percent endorse a combination of the two. An overwhelming 71 percent oppose the aforementioned tax increases.

As we await budget bills on the floor, we expect to hear on Saturday a bill that would unionize day care providers and personal care attendants. Evidence from other states that have taken this same step reveals that it leads to higher costs and lack of access to quality care for low-income families.  This is absolutely the wrong direction for the hardworking families of this state and the small business people who are child care providers. 

This initiative is widely opposed by parents, providers themselves and 75 percent of the survey respondents. In addition, this bill would unionize personal care attendants, people who take care of the vulnerable, elderly and disabled. I am strongly opposed to this proposal as it is not in the best interest of children, parents or the vulnerable people in our community.

I am writing this update from the house floor and, at a time when we still have to settle our top priority of setting the state's budget, we are in the midst of discussing a bill that deals with legislators' pay and compensation. This is particularly troubling and reflects poor priorities in my mind.  With three days to go, we should be settling our budget before discussing topics such as raising legislative pay.

I want to thank the hundreds of people who took the time to participate in the survey I mentioned earlier. Many people provided valuable input in the comments section as well and those are highly appreciated. You can click here to see all the results.

Stay tuned and I will let you know what unfolds at the Capitol between now and our scheduled adjournment. Let’s all hope the majority is able to get its final bills to us soon so we can finish on time.

Have a good weekend!

Tara

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