By Rep. Ernie Leidiger, District 47A
Legislators assembled at the State Capitol this week for the start of the 2014 legislative session. It’s great to be back serving as the voice of the good people of Carver County. I encourage readers to continue sending me your questions and comments — my job is best done when I hear from you!
One of my main priorities this session is to reduce the tax burden on families and business owners, giving them some freedom to pursue their goals and interests rather than sending their hard-earned money to government coffers.
The first step in pursuit of this goal should be to undo the three business-to-business taxes that were passed hastily last year by Democrat majorities. Businesses of all sizes and sectors are affected negatively, and ultimately consumers are hit by increased costs.
We’ve heard stories from owners who have had to make the difficult decision to cut jobs, stop expansion or even move to a more business-friendly state. Let’s work together to save those jobs here in Minnesota.
take center stage
Looking at the horizon, there are several controversial bills on the docket that aim to grow government and use hard-earned tax dollars to pay for it.
Sales tax increase
for light rail
A substantial increase to the seven-county metro sales tax has been considered to pay for transit projects, like light rail and bus service.
Folks in Carver County know we need to upgrade critical infrastructure on Highways 212 and 5. I do not believe we should be sending hard-earned tax dollars to pay for deficit-ridden light rail systems when critical projects need attention. Let’s prioritize our needs — not wants — before asking Minnesotans for more money.
Leaders from MNsure — the state’s arm of Obamacare — have said they may ask the legislature for more money or increase taxes on each health insurance plan sold.
Why? Not enough people are purchasing private market insurance through MNsure to make the new agency profitable. That, and $160 million start-up and technology costs are driving the agency in the red.
Since its launch in October, we’ve seen website crashes, vulnerability to information theft, a top-to-bottom audit, costly insurance plans for some folks, and handsome bonuses for MNsure executives. Major changes need to start happening at MNsure before the legislature can, in good faith, accept their request for funding.
At a cost to schools of about $20-$25 million every year, legislative leaders want to create a new state agency that would gather and store bullying reports.
As a parent and grandparent, I strongly believe that school should be a safe and nurturing environment for all children. However, the extreme costs of this bill, its inflexible, one-size-fits-all policies, the control taken away from local school districts, and the fact that parents will not be informed if their children’s information is shared should be of great concern to parents and local schools alike. Let’s work with the policies we have to generate change for the better.
Also on the docket …
• Second Amendment restrictions for law-abiding citizens.
• The legalization of medical marijuana.
• A capital investment (“bonding”) bill.
• The construction of a $90 million Senate office building that was sneaked into last year’s tax bill.
• Strict environmental mandates that make it difficult to start or expand a business and more expensive to own a home, especially in Greater Minnesota.
If you’re ever in St. Paul, please do not hesitate to contact my office to set up a meeting. I’d also be more than glad to meet with you in the district to discuss important state issues. I can be reached at [email protected] or (651) 296-4282. I’m here to serve you!