We recently received our fourth consecutive positive economic forecast from Minnesota Management & Budget. Minnesota’s projected budget deficit for 2014-2015 is now $627 million, a small fraction of the original estimate of $4.4 billion two years ago. We saw the impact Republican fiscal policies from 2011 have had on Minnesota’s economy and our overall budget situation. Just two years ago, Republican majorities in St. Paul took on the difficult task of balancing the state’s massive budget deficit while not impeding the economic growth necessary to refill state revenue accounts. Minnesota is once again on the right path thanks to sound management of the state’s finances and a commitment to keeping taxes low. Our policies have delivered steady, consistent improvements to the budget outlook.
I am also proud to report that another $290 million from the updated budget will be directed to buy down the K-12 school shift, leaving a balance of $801 million remaining. All in all, the Republican budget has paid back the entire school shift enacted in 2011 and is now being directed towards the DFL school borrowing that occurred in 2010.
Veterans Bills Get Hearing
I will be presenting four important veterans bills in the House State Government Finance and Veterans Affairs Committee on Monday. In all, twelve bills affecting veterans will be discussed. I hope to move forward my bipartisan legislation to exempt vets retirement pay from state taxes.
This week, I also attended a meeting with the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to discuss ways veteran-owned businesses can take part in the building of our new Vikings stadium.
Meeting with Students
Senator Karin Housley and I were proud to visit North Lakes Academy Charter School in Forest Lake last week and meet with students and staff. They had many good questions for us, including some below. If you have thoughts on these issues as well, please feel free to contact me.
What is the role of a charter school?
What are your plans to meet the budget?
Do you enjoy the landscape, nature, and state parks that we have here in Minnesota?
How can we make roads last longer?
Why are fireworks illegal in MN, but not in Wisconsin?
Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange
Looking forward, next Monday the full House of Representatives will debate HF5, the bill creating the expansive and powerful Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange. At a cost of $200 million, this exchange officially brings Obamacare to Minnesota and offers no guarantees for improving health care quality or lowering costs. I will have more details early next week when the House takes action on this measure.
Have a great weekend.