Sen. Ingebrigtsen offers his take on session so farState Senator Bill Ingibrigtsen, R-Alexandria, provided the following update of his work at the Legislature during the past three weeks:
State Senator Bill Ingibrigtsen, R-Alexandria, provided the following update of his work at the Legislature during the past three weeks:
Senate File 1 was introduced last week with the intention of creating lasting jobs in Minnesota. Minnesota’s combined federal and state tax rate rank third highest in the world. The bill reduces the business tax rate by 50 percent over six years. This will help promote Minnesota and get jobs coming back to our state. Also, the bill will streamline environmental permitting and make it easier for businesses to grow. This does not mean our environmental standards will be reduced in any way. It will just make sure the process is transparent, clear and timely.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
One of our first actions in the Senate this year was slashing our daily per diem by ten percent. Minnesotans are hurting during these tough economic times. Our state government cannot keep asking for more funds while the rest of us are not seeing any increases in pay and in some cases are seeing pay reductions. I felt it was necessary to lead by example and I strongly supported the reductions. The measure saved the state nearly $100,000. While this does not solve our $6.2 billion deficit, it does set the tone for the legislative session. State government must live within its means.
ELECTRONIC BENEFIT TRANSFER (EBT) DEBIT CARD/WELFARE REFORM
Government living within its means includes efficient use of Minnesotans tax dollars. Recent news has shown that the current use of EBT cards are in some cases being abused. I believe that some people truly need the help from the government during hard times in their lives. However, it is not fair for hardworking taxpayers to have their dollars be abused by people trying to scam the system. I have introduced a bill that will close the loopholes and bring some accountability to the EBT program.
My bill requires participants to live in Minnesota for at least 3 months. The bill also prohibits cardholders from purchasing alcohol, tobacco, candy, dietary supplements and soft drinks. There were also several people that would withdraw cash from the card and spend it on items such as drugs and tattoos. I felt that discontinuing EBT cardholders’ ability to withdraw cash at ATMs would help eliminate this problem and make sure people are buying approved goods. Also, all newly issued cards would have a photo ID on it to prevent fraud. I believe that these reforms will not hinder social services but make sure people who need help are getting it and people who want to scam and waste taxpayer dollars are no longer able to abuse it.
PHASE ONE BUDGET SOLUTION
Senate Republicans introduced the “Early Action” budget bill (SF60) that cuts a whopping $1 billion of the budget deficit. The bill cuts spending for state agencies by $200 million in the current budget, makes various one-time reductions permanent and reduces the long-term deficit by another $840 million. The remainder of the reductions in the measure are continuations of reductions and non-increases – most of which were approved by the DFL-controlled legislature last year, including holding Local Government Aid (LGA) at current levels while leaving the current formula in place. This is a strong bill. It is fiscally responsible, defines our priorities, and protects education- all while forcing government to live within its means. Committee hearings are set to commence soon.
Hearings will continue on the budget and our jobs creation bill as main priorities. The Senate Energy, Utility & Telecommunications Committee will begin hearings on a plan to lift the 17-year ban on permitting new nuclear power plants.