Into the future: 10 stories to look for in 2013Published 10:52am Wednesday, January 2, 2013
9. Legislature likely to focus on budget, ed
As the Minnesota Legislature prepares to start its upcoming term early this month, local legislators are setting their sights on a budget that will help stabilize the state’s finances.
“I think our number-one priority has to be on balancing the budget,” said Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin. “We need to focus on having a structurally balanced state.”
Sparks said the Legislature would need to avoid using economic gimmicks to put off open and honest discussion of the budget.
Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, agreed the budget would take priority over other matters this coming term. The budgeting process would require legislators to consider the needs of the state and accuracy assess what kind of revenue it needs.
Poppe anticipated many issues would come up regarding quality of life questions in the fields of education, health care and housing.
“It will probably be related to education,” she said. “How do we pay back the schools and continue to make progress on good education reform and making sure students are getting what they need?”
There will likely also be the matter of state funding for higher education, which has been falling behind in support.
And while the election season has passed, Poppe said there’s still a high chance election reform will come up.
“There will still be people that want us to look at the system and try to figure out: Do we have the best system we can in Minnesota?” she said.
As the newly-appointed chair of the Senate’s Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Sparks said he plans to bring legislation forward to help cultivate a good business climate and job growth.
Of course, there are many topics that will capture the Legislature’s attention that have yet to arise, in part because any legislator can introduce any bill they choose. Often, it’s difficult to forecast what a session will bring, as it takes shape as it goes, Sparks said.
The Legislature reconvenes at noon on Jan. 8.