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Rolling up the sleeves on budget bills

Friday, April 21, 2017

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Above, my son, Aiden, having Fran Stein of Delano cut his hair. Frannie has been cutting hair in Delano for 50 years after taking over the business from his father, who cut hair for numerous decades himself.


The Legislature returned to the Capitol this week and dug into budget work after a brief respite to share in worship and prayer with friends and family during the Easter/Passover holy season.

Both the House and Senate provided preliminary approval of 11 omnibus finance bills before the holiday break. Those packages form the basis of our state’s next two-year budget. Now the focus is on conference committees which have assembled to reconcile the differences between respective House and Senate versions.

I am honored to have been chosen as a conferee on the panel that is working to assemble a package of tax relief. We are poring over the various measures each body’s tax bill proposes so that we can get the pieces to fit together and gain agreement on a finished product that benefits a wide swath of Minnesotans, from families to senior citizens, college students, farmers, small business owners and beyond.

As for raw numbers, the House’s $1.35 billion in tax relief is larger than either the Senate or the governor provide. In my mind, it all comes down to doing what is best for Minnesota taxpayers. The state has a surplus of $1.6 billion and growing, meaning the state has enough revenue to fund its priorities such as education, transportation and caring for the vulnerable, and still provide robust tax relief. We can do both.

Transportation is another budget issue people are talking about and things took an interesting turn this week when the governor said he is opening up to the House’s plan, which would invest $6 billion over the next 10 years toward the state’s transportation needs without raising taxes.

The governor said he recognizes there is no appetite for the double-digit gas tax increase he proposes and is more open to our plan.

Let’s hope this is a sign of progress in reaching agreement on a package that would provide improvements for roads such as Highway 12, which we District 29Aers all know is long overdue for safety upgrades. Click here for a brief video of me discussing this topic at the Capitol.

Stay tuned for more details as conference committees make progress. Once that work is complete, we will be conducting votes on final passage for the finance bills and, upon approval, send them to the governor for his signature. Barely more than one month remains in the session, so things will happen in a hurry.



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