Senator Ingebrigtsen sums up sixth week at LegislatureState Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, provided the following summary of his work at the Legislature during its sixth week.
Editor's note: State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, provided the following summary of his work at the Legislature during its sixth week.
The Minnesota Department of Management and Budget released its February state budget forecast update on Wednesday, showing a dramatic turnaround from the $6.2 billion budget deficit in the November 2010 forecast. The numbers show a positive balance of $323 million, following an $876 million positive forecast last November.
The turnaround assures Minnesota taxpayers that the $1 billion cash flow and budget reserve accounts required by law are replenished. The remaining $318 million will be used so the state can pay almost half of the school shift created by the last budget compromise on an earlier schedule than anticipated. This dramatic 15-month turnaround validates the fiscal discipline Republicans applied during last year's budgeting session, including reducing projected state spending for the biennium from 22 percent down to six percent. Minnesota is beginning to recover, and we will work to keep it on the right track by encouraging job creation and reforms that make government more affordable for taxpayers.
REFORMING TEACHER LAYOFF PROCESS
This week the Senate passed a bill that will end Minnesota’s strict “Last In, First Out” (LIFO) standard for layoffs of teachers that addresses only seniority and not performance. The change made by this bill would authorize schools to base layoff decisions on effectiveness before seniority, letting them keep quality teachers in the classroom. Minnesota is one of only 11 states that base layoffs on seniority, without consideration for teacher effectiveness.
ALLOWING VETERANS HIRING PREFERENCES
On Thursday, the Senate unanimously approved a plan to allow Minnesota companies the option to put in place their own veterans hiring programs where previously the federal government had prohibited hiring preference for veterans. In the years since 9/11 and the war on terrorism, U.S. veterans are currently experiencing unemployment at rates more the twice the general population. This rate is even higher in Minnesota where our Reserve Force has very high rates of volunteerism and deployment. The measure gives protections and allows, but does not mandate, that private companies have the option to take steps to help solve our state’s veteran employment crisis.
Legislative authors, the Governor, Vikings owners, the Minneapolis Mayor and others announced they had reached a tentative agreement and were introducing a bill. Early details from the working group determined that there will be two separate bills with two separate votes, one dealing with the Vikings stadium in specific and one to address the Target Center in Minneapolis. Plans released by the group said no new taxes would be required, either in Minneapolis or statewide, and no state General Funds would be requested. The Vikings would contribute more than half to the construction and operating expenses, and would be required to play in the new stadium for 30 years.