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Session adjourns; progress was made - MessAge Media: Aitkin

Session adjourns; progress was made

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Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014 5:00 am

The 2014 Session adjourned ahead of schedule on May 16, bringing an end to what many believe to be the most productive two-year legislative biennium in a generation. When I was sworn-in in January 2013, our state was reeling from a decade of deficits and disinvestment in the priorities we share: education, middle-class jobs, and responsible budgeting.

We moved past the gridlock of the past to balance our state budget honestly — raising revenue by raising taxes on the wealthy and closing corporate loopholes — paying back our schools, and investing in our future.

We know that education is key to our future and that building the world’s best workforce is how Minnesota will remain economically competitive for decades to come. Our budget fully funds all-day kindergarten for every Minnesota family, froze college tuition and invested in early childhood scholarships.

Through legislation I chief-authored, we’ve reduced the funding equity gap between metro and rural school districts by a third in two years after watching it double over the last decade. Every Minnesota student deserves a great education, no matter where they live.

Our economy has continued to grow, but not everyone has been sharing in the recovery, so we focused on critical investments to grow our economy in Greater Minnesota, such as broadband infrastructure, job training, economic development resources and farm-to-food shelf legislation.

We funded the Minnesota Investment Fund, which draws new businesses to Minnesota and helps current businesses expand. Finally, we passed legislation I authored to cut unemployment insurance taxes by $346.5 million, saving Minnesota employers more money to invest in their businesses and our economy.

Minnesota has a backlog of important infrastructure projects necessary for our long-term economic growth, so we passed a bipartisan statewide bonding bill that invests in Minnesota’s infrastructure, including higher education, transportation, housing, economic development, clean water and wastewater systems.  

After years of cuts, we moved in a different direction and passed a 5 percent increase for our hard-working nursing home and long-term care providers. And after years of skyrocketing property tax increases, we passed $178 million in direct relief for homeowners, renters, and family farmers. Because of this direct relief, property taxes are projected to go down statewide for the first time in over a decade.

Thanks to a growing economy and budget surplus, we were able to pass a total of $550 million in middle-class tax cuts this year. Of a $1.2 billion surplus, nearly half of it went back to middle-class taxpayers in tax cuts.

Minnesota is making progress: our economy is growing — and has regained all the jobs lost during the Great Recession — our budget is honestly balanced for the first time in years, and we’ve made critical investments in the priorities Minnesotans value and the priorities that will build a stronger state.

After a decade of disinvestment and two government shutdowns in 2005 and 2011, we’re moving past gridlock. In fact, more than 92 percent of the bills signed into law had bipartisan support.

More work remains to be done however. Two productive sessions can’t reverse years of cuts and misplaced priorities. We need to continue focusing on growing our economy and ensuring opportunity.

For questions, comments, or ideas, contact Radinovich at 651-296-2365 or at rep.joe.radinovich@house.mn.

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