Poppe: Lawmakers did what voters elected them to do

Published 10:14 am Thursday, May 23, 2013

On Monday, the 2013 legislative session adjourned after lawmakers passed an honest, responsible budget. It eliminates our deficit without using gimmicks and pays for investments in education, job creation, and property tax relief. This is exactly what our state needs to create economic growth and ensure a brighter future for all Minnesotans.

When it comes down to it, lawmakers accomplished what voters elected us to do.

During the 2012 campaign, Minnesotans told us they were being squeezed by skyrocketing property tax hikes. They told us their kids were being saddled with record debt as tuition levels went through the roof. And they told us a lot of their neighbors were having no success finding good jobs that would allow them to support their families.

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The stories Minnesotans told me confirmed a problematic reality: Middle class families were worse off than they were ten years ago.

Lawmakers set out to end the status quo and move Minnesota forward in a new direction when we kicked off the legislative session in early January. The budget we passed gets the job done.

I believe our single largest accomplishment was taking serious steps to provide every child with a high-quality education. It’s the reason 2013 will go down in Minnesota history as the ‘Education Session.’

Providing all-day, every day Kindergarten allows us to build a well-educated workforce that can compete in a global economy. Moms and dads who pay thousands out of their own pockets to cover the cost of all-day Kindergarten for their children right now will keep that money.

Rep. Jeanne Poppe

Rep. Jeanne Poppe

Our budget also freezes tuition at Minnesota’s public colleges and universities. Young adults enrolled at the University of Minnesota and MnSCU systems will not pay a penny over current tuition levels. This will make a positive difference for students as well as moms and dads who are taking on record debt as a result of perpetual cuts to higher education over the past decade.

In addition, our budget follows through on our promise to bring down the rising property tax burden on middle class Minnesotans. Relief was sorely-needed after budget cuts to Local Government Aid (LGA) over the past decade caused rates to increase by 86 percent.

The budget we passed provides $400 million in property tax relief by restoring the state’s commitment to cities, counties, and school districts while at the same time providing direct relief to homeowners and renters. The City of Austin will receive over $757,000 more in LGA in 2014 thanks to our budget.

Most importantly, our budget fully pays for the cost of these priorities while eliminating our $627 million deficit and accelerating the repayment of hundreds of millions of dollars borrowed from our schools. We put an end to the cycle of gimmicks, shifts, and one-time budget fixes used over the past decade that left Minnesota with perpetual deficits.

Throughout the 2012 campaign and 2013 session, lawmakers were upfront, honest, and transparent with Minnesotans about how we planned to pay for our needs. Under our budget, the top 2 percent of Minnesotans pay 2 percent more on income they earn more than $250,000 for joint filers and $150,000 for single filers. We also raise new revenue by closing tax loopholes used by corporations to shelter profits overseas. Lastly, we increased taxes on cigarettes to help recoup significant health costs incurred by tobacco use.

Our budget sets Minnesota on a new trajectory towards academic excellence, economic growth, and long-term, shared prosperity. Minnesotans throughout our state should be pleased with what we accomplished.