It was an eventful week at the legislature as we saw the Governor release his budget proposal as well as the passage of an important flood relief package.
Governor Unveils Budget Proposal
Governor Dayton released the details of his budget proposal on Tuesday. In total, the Governor’s recommendations include a $6.839 billion dollar increase in all-funds spending over the current biennium and more than $903 million in increased taxes for the biennium. Included in the Governor’s proposal is a massive transportation package based off of nearly $9 billion dollars in new taxes, tax increases, and fee increases over the next decade.
At the heart of the Governor’s transportation plan, which includes $2.8 billion dollars for Twin Cities transit projects, he proposes a 6.5% increase in the state’s gas tax as well as an increase in license tab fees. Now is not the time to increase the state’s gas tax as we are finally starting to see some relief at the pump as gas prices have fallen.
I believe that we can put real dollars into our state’s roads and bridges without placing such a heavy burden on taxpayers. Those of us in rural Minnesota are tired of seeing so much of our state’s transportation spending used on Twin Cities-centric projects like light rail transit and bike trails. We are ready to see our transportation funds spent on actual roads and bridges all across the state. I am looking forward to getting to work on ways that we can responsibly fund and repair our roads and bridges.
The Governor’s budget proposal also continues government’s encroachment into family and privately owned childcare here in Minnesota. His budget would invest $109 million to provide pre-K childcare and learning opportunities for Minnesota children. This massive increase in state-run and state-sponsored childcare will make it harder for private childcare homes and pre-schools to keep costs down and compete. Parents will be left with fewer choices and less competition which will result in lower quality childcare and pre-school options.
Disaster Relief Aid Passes House
On Monday, the House passed Senate File 1 which will bring disaster relief aid to 47 counties and 3 tribal governments here in Minnesota. This relief money is for continued cleanup efforts after last summer’s severe storms.
It is good to see that this bill was passed in timely manner in order to ensure that these communities are able to receive the aid that they need to finish the cleanup from last year’s storms.
On Thursday, I introduced the “Hands Off Child Care Act.” House File 436 would repeal the childcare unionization law that was passed in 2013. The vast majority of childcare providers do not want be forced into a union. Given the already high costs of childcare in Minnesota, this legislation will help alleviate costs that unionization would bring providers, moms, and dads. With this, it will also give parents and providers certainty that they don’t need to fear the higher costs and fewer options that unionize would impose. Stay tuned for more details on this bill.
I wrote an Op-Ed on the Childcare Assistance Program and what we can do to improve its quality here in Minnesota for the Star Tribune. It was published last Thursday. You can read my Op-Ed by clicking here.
On Friday night, I will be in Ottertail for the Ducks Unlimited banquet. It is always such a great time to meet with and enjoy dinner with the folks at Ducks Unlimited. On Saturday, I will be participating in the Ice Fishing Challenge on Lake Le Homme Dieu in Alexandria. Wish me luck! I hope to see you at one of these events this weekend.
As always, you can send me an e-mail at Rep.Mary.Franson@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-3201. You can also send mail to my office address: 517 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.