By Rep. Ernie Leidiger, District 47A
Turns out the “Affordable Care Act” — a.k.a. Obamacare — isn’t so affordable for Minnesota schools. Districts statewide will be on the hook for more than $200 million over the next three years to comply with Obamacare mandates, according to experts at Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB).
Combine Obamacare mandates with the DFL’s costly new anti-bullying bill, and we see a disturbing trend of taking dollars out of the classroom and diverting them to bigger government. These precious resources are best used supporting our teachers and students, not bureaucrats in St. Paul and Washington, DC.
I am working with my colleagues to remedy this expensive problem. It’s important we act now to remove the huge roadblock that will make it harder for schools to fulfill their mission of enriching our children’s lives.
Americans and Taxes
Americans will spend more on taxes in 2014 than they will spend on food, clothing, and housing combined, according to the Tax Foundation.
The same organization also reports Minnesota’s business tax climate is worsening. Our state checks in at 47 out of 50, down two spots from last year. Our bump is the result of Democrats increasing taxes by over $2.1 billion in 2013, putting us ahead of only California, New Jersey, and New York.
It will be interesting to see how the state’s new minimum wage — $9.50 per hour — will affect our competitive edge. All of our neighboring states pay $7.25 per hour. By 2016, we will have the fourth highest rate in the country, behind only California, Washington, and Connecticut.
I fear that this large increase to the minimum wage will increase consumer costs and eliminate job opportunities for the low-skill and young workers (15-24) who make up the majority of the minimum wage workforce.
In order to secure higher wages for hardworking Minnesotans, I would have preferred to create a hospitable, tax-friendly business climate. When businesses grow and expand, a strong jobs market raises wages.
What troubles me the most is that the minimum wage increase was exchanged in backroom deals so the Senate could build itself a $90 million office building. That’s irresponsible and unfair to the hardworking families who will have to foot the bill for the palatial complex.
Ruling Benefits Citizens
The law was on the peoples’ side when a judge recently ordered Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to halt operation of his office’s online voter registration system that had been open since September. The judge ruled Ritchie did not have the authority to unilaterally implement the program without approval from the Legislature.
Folks, the system Ritchie set up wasn’t vetted by legislators or the public and, as far as we know, didn’t have any data privacy safeguard protections. How was the information stored, and who had access to it? We simply did not know.
By acting above the law, Secretary Ritchie put Minnesotans at risk of identity theft and their information at risk of improper handling. It was an expensive risk, too. So far it’s estimated Ritchie’s online voter registration system cost the state $52,000.
Opposition to Secretary Ritchie’s actions isn’t about being against online voter registration. (In fact, I recently voted to implement it in as sound and safe a manner as possible.)
Rather, it’s about one simple fact: Government needs to be accountable to the people it serves. This court ruling was made possible because hardworking taxpayers stood up and said, “This is wrong.” Together, they sent a strong message to all public officials that misspending hard-earned tax dollars will not be tolerated, now or in the future.