Tricounty News

Dean Urdahl’s update on legislature

I would like to review and clarify several items as we reach the half-way point of the 2013 legislative session:

It is not likely there will be any legislative pay increase voted on this session. Pay raises were recommended by a commission, but require legislative approval. I am confident the House of Representatives will vote “no” if this issue does happen to come before us.

I continue to oppose forced unionization of any day care providers.

Gov. Mark Dayton withdrew components in his initial budget proposal which would have both lowered the general sales tax and expanded it to services and clothing. The governor’s revised budget proposal raises $1.83 billion in new taxes, in part by raising taxes on higher wage earners. The deficit has shrunk to $670 million, causing me to question the need for such a high tax increase. Dayton also wants to increase spending by $2.7 billion. He does not pay back delayed K-12 funding in his plan.

Jobs must remain our focus, not divisive social issues. My proposal to kick-start the film industry would create much economic activity in this state. Let me make a few things clear about this. First, this already is being done here through the Minnesota Film and TV Board. The difference is that board uses general-fund dollars to provide rebates for films made in Minnesota. This has been going on for 20 years, but we have reduced funding to less than $1 million. Thirty-three other states provide much higher incentives and Minnesota cannot compete.

I would prefer to let the free market determine where movies are made. But we are shut out because Canada and other states offer much more than Minnesota. The playing field is not level. Thus, movies set in Minnesota are made in Canada or Michigan and the jobs and the money travel out of our state.

Therefore, I chose to present a proposal that uses Legacy dollars that must be spent on art to invest a small slice of that revenue – maybe $10 million or less – in films made in Minnesota. This is Legacy money which must be spent on art, history and culture and could not be spent on education, nursing homes or anything else funded through the general fund.

Best case with the movie proposal, we make money. Worst case, it becomes a grant not unlike others we issue with Legacy funds. The difference is even if a movie does not make money, it would be made in Minnesota and generate economic activity. I thought it was worth consideration. No state dollars are at risk. If not spent for this type of art, they would have had to be spent in another art form.

The majority of the bills I’m working on pertain to education. I serve on the Education Policy Committee and most of my legislative time is spent related to that committee. We finished our big committee bill last week, as well as the bill for the Elections Committee I also serve on. April 16 marks the committee deadline date for my other two committees, Capital Investment and Legacy. I will report on them when details are available.

 

Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township

District 18A