I am excited to once again be serving the citizens of District 51! I look forward to hearing from many of you during this new legislative session, so please do not hesitate to contact my office by phone, email or letter, or by visiting us at the Capitol in room 111.
The new session started with our attention in the Senate focused on solving the budget crisis in the state, finding new ways to invest in and grow the economy, and support the middle class in Minnesota.
There are huge challenges ahead. After a decade of budget gimmicks and games our state faces a billion dollar deficit, as well as more than a billion dollars owed to our schools, and a system of taxes that are not fair to the average Minnesotan. We know that we cannot cut our way to prosperity, just as we know we cannot simply tax our way to greatness. With a balanced approach we can overcome these challenges and provide a more stable foundation for all of our citizens.
This session we will come together around the values we know Minnesota sent us here to represent:
- A growing economy and a prosperous middle-class
- A responsible and balanced budget, no gimmicks or borrowing
- An education that allows every Minnesota child a chance at success
- A world-class higher education system and 21st century workforce
- A fair system of income and property taxes for families and businesses
- Common sense reforms that give Minnesotans a better value for their tax dollars.
I sit on five committees; Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services Finance Division, and Transportation and Public Safety Committee, both policy and finance.
For the most part, committees have focused on introductions and department overviews. Soon we will begin hearing bills in each committee and voting on passing them to their next relevant committee or going to the floor for a vote.
The Health and Human Services Finance Division committee meets daily. We received an overview of the Minnesota Department of Health and their programs, as well as an explanation of the Department of Human Services budget. We received an overview of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and had a joint meeting with the House Health and Human Services committees to learn about some of the financial details in the ACA Health Insurance Exchanges. Policy related information has been shared in presentations to the Commerce Committee by the developers of the Health Insurance Exchanges.
In the coming weeks we will be reviewing Governor Dayton’s budget proposal.
Governor Dayton’s Budget Proposal
On January 22 Governor Mark Dayton presented his Budget for a Better Minnesota for the 2014-2015 biennium. Currently, the state faces a projected budget shortfall of $1.1 billion, in addition to the $1.1 billion still owed to Minnesota schools. The Governor’s budget proposal is a good starting point to discuss Minnesota’s fiscal future. After years of gimmicks, we need to have a frank discussion about how we got into our cycle of budget deficits and an open dialogue about how we can fix them in a sustainable way. We need to be honest about what our priorities are and how we should pay for them.
The Governor’s budget features additional investment in education and reductions in property taxes for businesses, home owners and renters. The proposed funding in education will result in $52 in new money for every student.
A solid economy starts with a solid education. We need to continue to invest in our economic future by ensuring our children attend good schools. As a member of the education committee, I look forward to crafting policy that will strengthen Minnesota’s education system and in turn strengthen our economy.
Additionally, the Governor proposed to reduce the corporate tax rate by 14 percent, which will lower it from 9.7 percent to 8.4 percent. We need to work with the business community to make sure Minnesota remains a competitive state. The combination of decreased business property taxes and lowered corporate taxes rate will help both small and large businesses.
You can read more about the Governor’s budget proposal here: www.mn.gov/governor/budget/
Around District 51
January 26th – Town Hall Meeting: Join me, Rep. Sandra Masin, and Rep. Will Morgan at Burnsville City Hall at 9:30 am for our first Town Hall meeting of the session. House Chief Fiscal Analyst Bill Marx will be giving a short presentation on the state budget and then we will open up the meeting for questions and discussion.
Thank you for your interest in our community and our state. I look forward to serving our district and Minnesota this session. Please let us know what type of things you would like to see featured in future newsletters. You can also keep up with my at Senate website, click on the “In Touch with Senator Carlson” link at www.senate.mn/senatorcarlson, contact my office at 651-297-8073, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm also on facebook at facebook.com/senatorjimcarlson.