Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week was Teacher Appreciation Week, which is a great opportunity to thank teachers who have dedicated themselves to educating and having a positive impact on the lives of our young people. It was also National Small Business Week in recognition of these crucial job creators that are the lifeblood of our economy.
This time of year we see many school groups from around the state on field trips to the Capitol. These are great opportunities to see the Capitol firsthand and learn more about the legislature and state government. I’m always happy to meet with students, so please contact my office when you are here!
In addition, for those of you who will be out fishing Saturday morning for the opener, best of luck and stay safe!
Finally, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in our communities! This is a great occasion to celebrate the enormous impact our loving mothers have on our lives. Be sure to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to a mom in your life!
Before your weekend, here’s on update on where things currently stand at the Capitol.
Conference Committee/Budget Process
I thought it might be helpful if I provided a brief overview of the budget process at this point in the 2019 legislative session. The legislature must adjourn by May 20, meaning a little over a week remains for us to get our work done. Conference committees – where lawmakers from the House and Senate work out the differences in their respective budget bills – got underway for each budget area this week. Included in this process are “side by side comparisons”, in which conference committee members go through every provision of each bill to identify similarities and work though differences. Once members of each body and party agree on the legislation, the bills return to each legislative body as a whole to be voted on and then sent to the governor for his eventual signature or veto.
Normally, the first step before the conference committees proceed is the Governor, Senate, and House agreeing on the budget “targets” – the total dollar amount that can be spent in each budget area. Because the governor, House DFL majority, and Senate Republican majority haven’t yet agreed on these spending targets, the conference committees have been unable to make much progress. As I write this update, the next scheduled negotiation on these targets is for Sunday night.
So far, the governor and Democrats have been unwilling to compromise a single cent of their $12 billion tax increases, which includes the huge 20-cent per gallon gas tax hike. They have, however, proposed spending reductions of $200 million in their budget plan but, in a nearly $50 billion proposed budget, that isn’t much of a compromise. In fact, it works out to less than a half percent decrease.
The bottom line is this: there’s no need to raise taxes by $12 billion (including higher taxes on gas and healthcare) when Minnesota has a budget surplus surpassing $1 billion. In the coming days of negotiations, I’m hopeful all parties will come to the table and be willing to find real compromise so we can produce a budget plan to fund state government’s essential functions without burying taxpayers.
Staying in Touch
If you ever have questions or concerns regarding any issue, please contact me. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-8635.
Have a great weekend,