Today in St. Paul we are recognizing St. Patrick's Day as we work to pass bills through preliminary committee stages before a Friday deadline in the House.
I authored a proclamation to honor this day and read it in the House chamber during this afternoon's floor session. Also, fellow House member Bob Loonan, played a set of bagpipes in the Capitol.
On a related note, Sen. Bruce Anderson, Rep. Marion O'Neill and I, along with family members, were in the Maple Lake St. Patrick's Day parade this past Saturday, March 14. It was a grand parade. Thank you Maple Lake!
My working day started today with an appearance on KTLK radio to share my thoughts on both St. Patrick's Day and legislative issues. As I said on the air, the McDonald family is proudly American first, but also continues honoring its Irish heritage. We talked about traditional Irish foods such as tripe and blood sausage. I also provided a quick summary of who St. Patrick was and explained why the shamrock is synonymous with this holiday as a symbol of the Christian Trinity.
The discussion also included an overview of current events in the Legislature and I reiterated my advocacy for fiscal common sense as we work on a new two-year state budget. This issue will come to the forefront now as formal budget proposals emerge from Gov. Mark Dayton, the House and the Senate.
The governor issued his revised budget proposal today, taking into account updated economic information recently provided by Minnesota Management & Budget. It is disappointing he still is looking to raise taxes even though the state is set for a $1.9 billion surplus through 2016-17.
The Republican House and Democrat Senate soon will soon present their own budget proposals. Then discussions will take place to identify areas of agreement and come up with a plan all three sides – House, Senate and governor – can support.
My position is that, especially with a surplus of nearly $2 billion, our state has more than enough revenue to fund priorities and provide tax relief. Revenue is projected to be $42.5 billion through 2016-17 and state spending is forecast to be $41.1 billion over that same time.
Count me in the group that would not only hold spending at our current level, but find ways we can cut out waste to reduce the total price tag. That would be ideal, yet it remains to be seen what the finished product will look like in this split-party government that will require compromise in setting a budget.
Happy St. Patrick's Day,
Joseph Patrick McDonald