With the legislature back in town yesterday for a special session, here is an update on the disaster relief passed, as well as some other recent news from Saint Paul.
Disaster Relief Passed
Yesterday the legislature unanimously passed $4.5 million dollars in disaster relief funding that will help 18 counties that were impacted by storms in June 2013. Funds will be used for debris removal, road and bridge repair, as well as a number of other miscellaneous repairs and upgrades. Interestingly, Mille Lacs County did not make the final list even though it was included in the first listing.
The legislature has a long tradition of putting politics aside to support areas impacted by natural disasters , so I joined my colleagues to support this relief bill.
Unfortunately, the scope of the special session was limited strictly to disaster relief. Despite support from both Republicans and Democrats to repeal other harmful taxes, we reached no agreement. We could have paid for the repeal of these harmful taxes by eliminating wasteful spending such as the brand new Senate Office Building or rolling back the pay increases for Governor Dayton and the rest of our constitutional officers. There are many examples of wasteful spending, and I look forward to exploring wasteful spending items to pay for the repeal of these taxes when the legislature returns in February.
The Star Tribune recently printed a column written by Rep. Kelby Woodard and me. I am the GOP lead on Education Policy and Rep. Woodard is the GOP lead on the Education Finance Committee so we are very concerned about changes to K-12 education and the effects on our state's education system.
Moreover, we are concerned about the need to demand accountability and results to ensure our children are receiving the best education possible. More funding without additional reforms and accountability is meaningless; Minnesota has the highest achievement gap in the nation, and the status quo just isn't cutting it.
Please take a moment to read our column by clicking here.
More Hidden Tax Increases
A report from the Pioneer Press yesterday highlights additional hidden tax increases from the DFL tax bill that are impacting hardworking Minnesotans across the state.
Because of the failure on the part of Democrats to conform to federal tax law changes, families are seeing higher taxes on a laundry list of items.
Employer-paid tuition assistance, adoption benefits, mortgage interest premiums, and childcare expenses are now being taxed under state law. Approximately 650,000 married couples will have to pay a "marriage penalty," adding about $120 to their tax bills.
This is another unacceptable instance of Democrats raising taxes on the middle class to finance their record-setting spending spree, another one of the "mistakes" that needs to be fixed next session when the legislature returns in 2014.
Last weekend, about twenty House members joined several State Senators, Senators Klobuchar and Franken, Secretary of State Ritchie, and a number of other military and government officials at the commissioning of the USS Minnesota.
While I was unable to attend, I wanted to share with you this photo, and a link to a fascinating blog put together by some of our House Republican members about the trip to see this amazing vessel, just the third ship to be named for our state. The submarine weighs over 4,800 tons, and is longer than the length of three football fields.
You can find many more photos, as well as other facts and stories from the trip by clicking here.
Have a great week,