Speaking on the House Floor Thursday afternoon
The 2018 session kicked off on Tuesday, February 20 and House Republicans will look to build off last year’s many achievements, focusing on key priorities important to Minnesota families and taxpayers.
The first bill I introduced already this session will help make the Monticello School District whole again. Through no fault of their own, they are facing a shortfall of $1.6 million because of forced changes to their special education co-op structure by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). While MDE told the district they would be held harmless after making this change, they’re now facing a funding shortage that could lead to cutting as many as 23 teachers and staff.
This is an important issue for our district, and I will be working hard to get this bill through the Legislature and on the governor’s desk for signature. You can also see a local KMSP (Fox 9) story I did about the bill here.
Next, Minnesota taxpayers will also be an important priority again this year. After Congress passed sweeping tax reform at the end of 2017, the state will need to conform to federal tax code, making it simpler and less complicated for tax filers in 2019. Additionally, with current estimates from the Minnesota Department of Revenue saying that full federal conformity will mean hundreds of millions of dollars in increased tax revenue for the state, House Republicans will be working to pass additional tax relief to ensure all that money goes back to the people—not state government.
Last year, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the largest middle-class tax relief package in nearly two decades, and now with federal tax relief as well, my goal is to ensure that Wright County residents are able to take full advantage of tax relief at every level of government and keep more of their hard-earned money.
And when it comes to protecting taxpayers, our state’s disastrous new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System, (MNLARS) will also be a central issue this session. With echoes of the catastrophic MNsure rollout several years ago, MNLARS launched this summer and immediately faced technical difficulties causing headaches for citizens and deputy registrars to blow through overtime budgets. This is unacceptable.
More concerning still is that MNLARS already cost taxpayers nearly $100 million to build and now the Dayton Administration is asking for another $43 million to fix it. I will be looking for fiscally-responsible solutions that protect taxpayers and deliver a working system, as well as demanding accountability from those responsible for this mess.
While those are just a few of the issues we will be working on this session, I expect many other priorities to come before the Legislature including advancing reforms to address abuse and neglect in senior living facilities, meaningful education reforms, and reining in state government.
As always, if you need assistance on an issue pertaining to state government or have concerns or ideas about legislation, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 549 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.