Editor's note: The following is a newsletter from Lakeville's State House Representative Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville.
Most Popular Constituent Contact Issue This Week - Gun Control Bills
This week, the Public Safety Committee took testimony on various gun control proposals. For three days, there have been hundreds of citizens in the building showing their strong opposition to the bills being considered. Citizens began arriving at 7 am to try to get into the hearings that began at 10 am. The hearing room was packed each day as well as multiple overflow rooms that were set up so that citizens could listen to the testimony.
Between e-mails and phone contacts I have heard from nearly 200 residents of my district. They are overwhelmingly opposed to these bills. At the bottom of this email I’ve included one letter sent to me from a constituent expressing their concerns (sent with the writer’s permission).
Meetings with Constituents and Groups
I had the pleasure of meeting with several groups and individuals from Lakeville this week, including:
- Representatives of District 196 (Rosemount/Apple Valley/Eagan) Public Schools, including Superintendent Jane Berenz, School Board and Cabinet Members, and some residents.
- Minnesota Fire Fighters
- Representatives of Microsoft Corp.
- Wells Fargo, and others representing banks for Bank Day
- Lakeville students on MN School of Business Day
- DECA participant from Lakeville North
- Participants in MN Physical Therapy Day
- Participants in Aviation Day at the Capitol
- MN Builders Association members
- MN Hospital Association representatives
- Gun Rights Activists
A common theme from business representatives were concerns regarding the Governor’s tax increases and uncertainty surrounding the implementation of Obamacare.
Committees Analyze Governor Dayton’s Budget
Last week, the Minnesota House Taxes and Ways and Means committees began scrutinizing Governor Mark Dayton’s budget proposal and determining what it means for Minnesotans. The plan, which increases projected state spending by $2.5 billion and increase taxes on Minnesotans by nearly $3.7 billion, would negatively impact virtually every sector of the state. While reducing the sales tax rate and broadening the base, it is true that currently taxed items would cost less. However, the fact that it raises an additional $2.1 billion in revenue is proof that nearly all state taxpayers will pay more. On top of the sales tax expansion, he is also proposing an additional quarter-cent sales tax in the seven-county metro area to fund transit. This is an additional $350 million more in taxes paid by residents in the metro.
Through lengthy question and answer periods, lawmakers learned that Governor Dayton’s “balanced” budget approach didn’t quite live up to its name. While crafting what would be a $38 billion budget, it was discovered that the governor’s spending reductions were far less than the $225 million stated in his initial budget documents. Upon closer scrutiny, it was discovered that many of the general fund spending reductions were being backfilled with fees. At this point, it appears that for every dollar of true spending reductions, he is increasing taxes $22.
In the area of K-12 funding, it is alarming that with all of this new money, the students actually lose ground as a percent of the total budget. In the last budget cycle, K-12 funding received 43.23 percent of total general fund state spending. Governor Dayton’s budget only provides 40.97 percent of the budget. It is disappointing that with a budget with a 7.58 percent increase in spending the Governor choose not to protect the students’ share of the budget pie.
The governor's recently issued budget proposal increases K-12 funding by $344 million over the base budget, including a $52 increase in the per-pupil formula. This is roughly half of the commitment Republicans made to education in 2011 by increasing the education budget by $675 million, with a $100 increase to the per-pupil formula spanning fiscal years 2012 and 2013. The Governor's plan waits until 2017 to pay off the remaining $1.1 billion in delayed K-12 payments that were enacted in 2009.
The Governor is required to submit the actual budget bills to the Legislature no later than 15 days after the budget is released; that deadline was yesterday. We were informed that only two of his agency bills made the deadline. Until he provides the written details of his entire budget proposal, we will not be able to assess the additional impacts on the State. Stay tuned.
Mary Liz Holberg
Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts or concerns you may have. I can be reached at 651-296-6926 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org