Legislative Update From Connie Doepke

Connie Doepke

With one week to go in the legislative session, the Republican-led legislature is working to balance the budget by making government live within its means, reversing unsustainable spending, and implementing significant reforms across all areas of government. As we head to the final days of this session, I want to recap what we’ve done to this point and lay out how the next week may progress.

After less than 100 days in session, the House passed a balanced budget that focuses on priorities, reform and sustainability. Highlights include:

The tax bill reduces the 1st-tier income tax rate from 5.35% to 4.75 percent and reduces the 2nd-tier from 7.05% to 6.75%. The bill also includes business tax relief designed to improve the state’s economic climate, most notably an upfront capital equipment sales tax exemption to provide businesses more capital for expansion and new jobs.

Our education bills focus on students by increasing the overall state funding for K-12 education by 3 percent and by properly funding programs that help students pay for college. The House’s k-12 education bill also proposes many reforms, including enhanced accountability measures and changes to school grading, expanded family choice in education, and significant mandate relief.

State Government
The state government bill reduces agency spending by over 30 percent and contains perhaps the most reforms out of any piece of legislation in recent memory, including:

  • 15 X 15 Initiative (15% reduction of state workforce by 2010 through attrition and early retirement)
  • State employee pay freeze for two years.
  • 5% salary reduction for all State House Representatives.
  • Sunset Commission to review and retire unnecessary state activities and spending, identify opportunities for innovation and drive continued reform.
  • Zero based budgeting principles

With reforms like these, we can drive government into the 21st century, give our citizens the results they deserve and set our state up for a sustainable future.

THe HHS bill does what no bill has ever done before, cutting almost $2 billion in state spending. While protecting priorities like seniors in nursing homes and the disabled, the bill reduces projected spending increases by 15 percent and sets our state on a sustainable path.

Last week, the House passed their Omnibus Environment and Natural Resources Policy bill. Included in this bill is a bill I co-authored that includes a comprehensive plan to address Aquatic Invasive Species, including zebra mussels. I have also been selected as a member of the conference committee with the Senate and will continue to work towards a consensus solution that helps protect and strengthen our lake environment.

In summary, the House Republican budget is a fiscal responsible approach that protects priorities while reducing state spending; promotes reform and innovation; and helps improve Minnesota’s business climate by letting families and businesses keep more of your hard earned money.

As of this update, all of our budget bills are in the conference committee process with the Senate, and we are working to wrap up this legislation and move into final negotiations with the Governor in the coming days.

We are working hard to get finished on time by using a new innovative framework for resolving the state budget that allows Governor Dayton and the public to weigh in on each budget bill before the conference committee finalizes its work. As each budget bill is completed by the conference committee, it is immediately posted online for a review period. The House intends to vote out all spending bills, pending negotiation with Governor Dayton by Thursday, May 19. This system is a compromise with the Governor to the traditional session-ending bill process and proposed by Governor Dayton. It allows the Governor to participate in the process and if successful, will avoid a chaotic, hurried and unproductive finish to the session.

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