2012 Legislative Report
Now that the legislative session has come to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to review legislative activity of possible interest to you. The legislature made significant progress on a number of issues over the last two years, and on many occasions (though not reported by the media) legislators from both parties came together to pass bipartisan legislation for the benefit of all Minnesotans.
At the outset of the 2011 legislative session, the State of Minnesota faced a $5.1 billion deficit. My strong belief is that government must live within its means, not only when the economy is strong, but especially during times of economic challenge. As we all know, Minnesota is experiencing the toughest economic climate in many decades, perhaps since the Great Depression of the 1930s. That is why I and my Republican colleagues felt it was necessary to balance the state’s budget without raising taxes.
Governor Dayton’s belief was that increased revenue was necessary to balance the budget. He proposed several tax increases including an income tax increase on those he considered to be “high-income” Minnesotans. While people may disagree on the need to raise taxes, what was not in dispute was that the Governor’s tax proposal would have substantially impacted families in the northwest suburbs and made Minnesota’s income tax rate the highest in the nation.
After a prolonged debate and 20-day government shutdown, the Governor and legislative leaders agreed to balance the budget via the sale of certain bonds and by shifting – or temporarily delaying with a promise to repay with interest – payments to school districts. While not ideal, school shifts have been utilized by legislatures and governors of both parties in the past.
Over the past year, because of our fiscally conservative management, reduced state spending, and a slightly improved economy, we now have a $1.2 billion budget surplus. While there is much to do in 2013 and beyond, it is clear that our approach has been successful.
As Chair of the Government Operations and Elections Committee, I was proud to pass significant legislation that benefits our communities, provides fiscally responsible education funding, and protects critical services for our state’s most vulnerable residents. We also passed significant regulatory reform and helped eliminated red tape for Minnesota businesses, assisting in the creation of almost 40,000 jobs.
I have included a list of legislative highlights that is by no means exhaustive, but I hope it gives you a flavor of what the legislature accomplished over the last two years.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to serve you at the Capitol. I welcome your input, suggestions, comments, and ideas. Please feel free to contact my office at any time. I look forward to hearing from you!
State Representative Joyce Peppin