With the start of the 2010 Legislative Session, I want the Week in Review to be a place to provide updates on some of the issues facing Minnesota and District 14. Throughout the next few weeks, feel free to share your comments and questions with me.
But the first order of business was a fast-tracked legislative capital investment (bonding) bill. Both the House and Senate majority parties announced their plans Thursday, Feb. 4, both bills hovering around $1 billion in borrowing.
In contrast, the Governor's $685-million request announced in January was balanced between the Twin Cities metro and Greater Minnesota with a majority of funds designated for programs that are available statewide, which included funding sources to double the capacity of the Moose Lake sex offender treatment program, a need that was echoed by many Republican lawmakers.
The bonding bill was debated on the Senate floor this past Tuesday, and Senate Republicans sought changes to make this bill more responsible to Minnesota taxpayers.
State of the State
Thursday, Feb. 11, was accompanied by Governor Tim Pawlenty's State of the State speech where he declared "that our state is challenged, but our spirit is resilient." One challenge is the creation of long-term jobs.
As a part of this, Pawlenty urged legislators to pass a "Jobs Creation Bill" that includes tax cuts on small business, an angel investment tax credit, "supercharged" research and development tax credit, capital gains exclusion for qualified investments, and incentives for companies to invest in Minnesota small businesses.
The Governor also honored the men and women who have served in our armed forces, welcoming the safe return of the Minnesota Red Bulls. He continued to focus our attention on jobs; discussing the need to allow those that have created jobs in the past to be at the forefront of continued economic development. "The future," he declared "Will demand that Minnesota compete or be left behind." He implored the legislature to reduce spending, be job friendly, and reform our tax code, but protect the military, veterans, core public safety and K-12 education.
The Governor will release his supplemental budget Monday, Feb. 15, and a variety of bills will be introduced to bring them before the legislature.
As the day continued, Legislators saw a bill that would reinstate a pared-down General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC). In an 11th-hour change to the bill, which was made by the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee during the previous night, significant portions of the measure were changed. The main source of funding would be a transfer of roughly $159 million from the general fund into a newly created GAMC account. Several Republican amendments were offered, including the exclusion of those who have been convicted of a sexual predatory conduct and a re-referral to the Finance Committee to discuss the fiscal impact that the changes would make.
As the session continues, Legislators will be making many difficult decisions about the budget, and jobs will continue to take center stage, even though Minnesota is faring slightly better than the national average in jobless numbers. One point of interest was a change for all townships in the State of Minnesota. The final passage of S.F. 848 adopted a November election date to return to the second Tuesday in March and extends the town supervisors term to six-years. If you would like, you can follow audio or video on the Senate Web site at www.senate.mn.