Lone local DFL legislator says session made progress
This won't come as a shocker but State Representative Jay McNamar of Elbow Lake, the sole DFLer representing parts of Douglas County, had an entirely different view of the just-completed session than his Republican counterparts.
He noted that the session finished on time with a balanced budget that makes critical investments in education, property tax relief and job creation.
McNamar, who represents District 12A, said that the Legislature made great progress for Minnesota.
"After a decade of just making cuts and shifting funds around, I'm proud to say the Legislature put forward a balanced budget that invests in the things that will help our communities most," he said.
McNamar listed a number of accomplishments, including:
Balancing the budget deficit without gimmicks. The DFL budget put an end to "roller-coaster" deficits with a fair and balanced budget that will finally put Minnesota on sound fiscal footing, and deliver key investments for a stronger middle class, he said.
Accelerating pay back of school funding. The previous Legislature borrowed $2.4 billion from our schools. The DFL plan will accelerate a plan to pay back Minnesota's schools and fully pay them back by 2014.
Making historic investments in education. The DFL budget makes a historic $725 million in education for all learners. "This kind of commitment to our kids' futures will allow us to invest in all learners, from early education and all-day kindergarten, to reduce class sizes and restore equity in our K-12 schools, to freeze tuition and lower debt for our college students and their parents," McNamar said.
Creating jobs. The DFL plan makes $89 million in new investments to spur middle class job creation, calling for more job training, workforce development and small business strategies that are proven job-creating engines to strengthen our economy and workforce.
Fairer taxes for the middle class. The budget provides $400 million in property tax relief for middle class Minnesotans and it's paid for by a new tax on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans, including big corporations.
Supporting nursing homes. For the first time in more than four years, nursing home workers will see a pay increase. After the Legislature cut more than $1 billion from Health and Human Services two years ago, the DFL budget gives a 5 percent increase in pay for nursing home workers.
"When the House put forward a human services bill with funding cuts for rural hospitals, I told them I wouldn't vote for it," said McNamar. "I fought to make sure our local hospitals and our local nursing home workers were a priority. I got the cut to hospitals taken out of the bill and a pay increase for nursing home workers put in. That work led to a final Health and Human Services bill that we can be happy with."