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BLOG: Capitol Update—January 25

An update on the activity at the Capitol from Senator Carlson during the first few weeks of session.

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.

My Committees

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.

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 sen.jim.carlson@senate.mn. I'm also on facebook at facebook.com/senatorjimcarlson.

Sincerely,

Jim Carlson

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Donald Lee January 26, 2013 at 11:23 PM
I would hope that Senator Carlson takes a hard-headed approach to the Dayton "budget", that raises $4 billion in new taxes on a long list of activities and items, while "cutting" taxes in ways that may or may not materialize. Other analysts have found that the business-to-business taxation is not only unwise, but expensive and cumbersome to administer. Economists refer to it as a "pyramid" because it results in paying taxes on each stage of production - possibly several times. Wisconsin is a short drive away, and businesses can and do move there. This "everything we can think of" approach to taxation is going to hurt those specific people targeted, like the MOA, service industries and small businesses who do a lot of business with multiple suppliers, not to mention smokers and others. Dayton promised tax "reform", and what I see is mostly tax increases. It is up to our legislators to hold the governor's feet to the fire. The small businesses in Eagan depend on you to represent our interests, not roll over and play lapdog for the political advantage of the DFL or the Governor. The GOP may not have done all they promised, but they did not start the session by reaching for my wallet as the governor has. Those "trick and gimmicks" were necessary because the governor demanded more spending than the GOP wanted, and more than MN had revenue to pay for. Thank you for your service. We will be watching.
ellen holmes lafans January 27, 2013 at 07:45 PM
It was a well run town hall forum yesterday. It was refreshing that our DFL legislators, Senator Carlson, Rep. Masin, and Rep. Morgan held an open forum for the residents of Burnsville/Eagan. (Open forums were sorely missing with the past GOP legislators except for the time they came with Paul Ryan's radical budget plan to privatize Social Security and voucher my parents Medicare!) The presentation by the budget expert from the capitol was extremely helpful as it showed how extremely tight our state budget is for our needed public services. It is clear that there has needed to be tough choices made by Gov. Dayton, and by our legislators, especially after the mismanagement by the past GOP legislators in power. One example being the borrowing from our schools that now has to be paid back..... and then there was the time they "closed down" our state! One point that was well made was that due to inflation, over the decades, that the current tax rates have not been keeping in step with revenue needed to run Minnesota. I do think that Gov. Dayton, and our current DFL representatives, intends to keep MN a state that businesses can come to and find a strong and educated workforce.
Thomas Anderson January 27, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Senator Carlson Thank You for your service and especially thank you for your fair and balanced approach to resolving our budget crisis. Minnesotans are sick of Republican gimmicks, shifts and borrowing to balance the budget. Republicans had their chance to bring the budget into balance and failed miserably. They cut nothing and put the debt on the credit card, borrowing from the schools and the tobacco endowment. Governor Dayton ran on raising the taxes of the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans, he won and has upheld his promise. He ran on reforming the tax code to reduce the severity of the business cycle. He has done that with this budget proposal. I am particularly happy with his proposal to REDUCE the sales tax rate, broadening the base and bringing our sales taxes more in line with neighboring states. Increasing the cigarette tax is also an excellent move, this will help to cover the societal cost of smoking while reducing the number of smokers. I am so sick and tired hearing from whiners like Don Lee who like the services the state provides but always balk at paying for them. These whiners always talk about businesses moving to other states with lower taxes, but overlook that our state has the highest number of Fortune 500 companies per capita. Companies locate her because of a well educated and productive work force. Continued investments in education is the key to maintaining our competitiveness not reducing taxes to be more like Alabama or Somalia.
Thomas Anderson January 27, 2013 at 08:47 PM
I am constantly amazed by the rhetoric and poor understanding of some citizens. At the town hall meeting in Burnsville, a citizen stood up and said he was being "taxed to death". The fact is that right now, the state income tax rate is the LOWEST it has ever been in modern history. You pointed this out to him, but I think he was so blinded by his Tea Party rage that he could not comprehend the truth. Thank You Senator Carlson for answering this gentleman with truth and facts.
Deb M January 27, 2013 at 10:52 PM
I think it has been quite obvious that Jim feels the Dayton budget is a starting point, not the end product. I attended the town hall meeting in Burnsville Saturday January 26. On the point regarding the taxing on business to business Jim felt this was definitely not a good thing especially for small businesses. I believe that there will soon be a video of the Town Hall meeting online. My best guess would be to start looking on the Burnsville website. It was clear at the meeting that Will Morgan, Sandy Masin and Jim Carlson are examining the budget proposal and will be bringing ideas and opinions of their constituents to the table. We are at the front of a very long process and from what I saw yesterday our elected officials are up to the task.
P. Hoffinger January 28, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Thanks to Donald Lee for the "dialogic gimmicks" the GOP will push as part of their right-wing sound machine. Statistics presented by Fiscal Analyst Bill Marx were telling in that regard. While they showed an increase in the dollar amount of taxes in Minnesota over time, taxes as a percentage of individual income, show a decline. There is a resulting upward pressure on class sizes. 40 students per class are too many. Maybe not for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the recipient of the largesse of the Koch brothers. Mark Dayton and many Democrats in Minnesota are not interested in the job losses that have occurred in the Badger state. The mantra that small businesses are ready to flee to Wisconsin or South Dakota is not borne out in fact. The kind of tax reform I hope that Democrats consider, will look at information in the Tax Incidence Study of the state Department of Revenue. It shows wealthier Minnesotans pay less in overall tax as a percentage of income than middle- and lower-income earners. It's time to stop this welfare for the rich. Too long has Minnesota had a sense of priorities skewed by the right. Our state's physical and intellectual infrastructure has suffered. Part of the job of our state legislature will be to repair this neglect and re-prime the pump of Minnesota's economic engines. No more fallen bridges, and no more falling school scores.
Donald Lee January 28, 2013 at 04:23 AM
It's good to see people engaged, but not so good to see them swallowing whole the talking points of our elected officials. 3 things: 1. Whether our taxes are higher or lower than they "should be", the Governor's proposal will take another $2 billion from taxpayers. That's not pocket change. It is our rep's job to ensure that it is spent wisely, and only taken if really necessary. 2. Be careful with your history. Gov Dayton was half of the dance pair that caused the state shutdown. He vetoed **everything** until he got the spending he wanted, knowing that the GOP would not raise taxes. He agreed to the "gimicks" now being condemned. As I understand it, he even suggested them. It is a stretch to call this "mismanagement". 3. I trust that Sen. Carlson will not dismiss those of us who have concerns about responsible, prudent state finances as "ignorant" and "whiners", as some of these commenters have. I'd like to hear him say so. I will still be watching.
Deb M January 28, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Donald, Do not just watch and see feel free to contact Senator Carlson at; contact Senator Carlson office at 651-297-8073, or email him at sen.jim.carlson@senate.mn. He is also on facebook at facebook.com/senatorjimcarlson.
Thomas Anderson January 28, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Donald, Its good to see people engaged, but not so good to see them swallowing whole the talking points of the Republicans. 1. The Governors proposal will not "take" "another" "$2 Billion" from "taxpayers". We all use the infrastructure, we benefit from the public safety and education system that our government provides. Those of us who have a balanced approach about responsible, prudent state finances are really tired of Republicans such as yourself who can only see one side of the ledger and can only think of their own self interest and not the common good, but hey, that's basically the description of a modern day Republican. 2. Bulls**t Don, the Governor "did not" "agree" to "the" "gimmicks" now "being" "condemned". It was about getting the best deal possible to get the state back on track knowing that the voters were going to wholeheartedly dump the dysfunctional Republicans and send the adults back in to govern. 3. Yes Don, we will be watching also and voting. The voters sent you and and the Republicans a strong message. It may be a decade or more before the unmitigated disaster of the last session fades from memory enough that the voters let Republicans close to the levers of power again.
Donald Lee January 28, 2013 at 04:57 PM
I was unaware that the governor vetoed the final agreement that ended the shutdown. I guess the Republicans must have overridden that veto. I see this news article saying he signed it - i.e. agreed to it. http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2011/07/buoyant-gov-dayton-signs-budget-bills-end-shutdown
Ken in MN January 28, 2013 at 09:01 PM
To quote Walter Sobchak, "You're out of your element, Donny!"
Thomas Anderson January 28, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Donald, you are so full of Fox news talking points you no longer have a grip on reality. Get help. See #2 above.
Donald Lee January 28, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Please note that I used the <sarcasm> font in the post above.... It's hard for some people to see.
Jim Carlson January 29, 2013 at 05:57 AM
The beauty of the Governor's budget proposal is not the specific details, many of which are debatable and subject to change, but Governor Dayton achieved for the first time in ten years a gimmick-free, four-year structurally balanced budget offering an immense number of decisions on policy and taxation. Governor Dayton's position is firm, no tricks, no gimmicks, only solutions. Dayton built a budget that works and reflects his view of Minnesota values, history and economic needs. There are details that some legislators don't like and will work to change, but the overall achievement is admirable. Dayton speaks to legislators in the same words as he does in the media and to interest groups: "If you don't like something, fine! Tell me what you are offering as a substitution." Hard-nosed, you bet! However, that requirement extends to all who wish to offer changes. Suggestions should be honest, researched and supported. After all, it is far easier to throw stones at a house than it is to build one. Watch the excellent presentation by Bill Marx of Non-Partisan House Research on the history as well as revisable and the committed details within the Minnesota budget. It will play on Burnsville and Eagan cable TV systems. Non-partisan information can be found here: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/fiscal/generalinfo.asp The Governor's budget is here: http://www.mn.gov/governor/budget/toolkit/ Senator Jim Carlson sen.jim.carlson@senate.mn
Donald Lee January 29, 2013 at 04:36 PM
It is far easier to balance a budget when you feel free to pick the pockets of taxpayers. Gov. Dayton's achievement is to make a $2 billion tax increase sound like a "solution".
Thomas Anderson January 29, 2013 at 06:03 PM
Donald Lee repeating the same BS over and over does not make it true. Those of us who have a balanced approach about responsible, prudent state finances are really tired of Republicans such as yourself who can only see one side of the ledger and can only think of their own self interest and not the common good, but hey, that's basically the description of a modern day Republican.
Thomas Anderson January 29, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Thank You Senator Carlson for your very fair and honest review of the Governors budget proposal. The citizens of Eagan and Burnsville have excellent representation.
Ken in MN January 29, 2013 at 07:04 PM
Three sayings come to mind: "Taxes are the price of a civil society," "You get what you pay for," and, "You either pay me now or pay me later." If we were spending the money on hookers and blow, then I'd agree with Donald that the State was picking our pockets. But we're not. We are investing in our future, investments that were neglected for 20 years...
Donald Lee January 29, 2013 at 08:11 PM
I am disappointed by the uncivil and insulting tone of some of the comments in this forum. I think my comments have been reasonable and factual. They will stay that way. No one has to agree. Readers can decide for themselves what is balanced, responsible, and prudent.
Ken in MN January 29, 2013 at 09:23 PM
So Donald says the Dayton budget "picks the pockets of taxpayers", then whines about uncivil and insulting tones in other people's comments. Ha! Whining means you lost the argument...

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