Franson: Many accomplishments found in 2012 sessionOne year ago, lawmakers were struggling to decide how to overcome a $5.1 billion budget deficit. Governor Dayton was touting a proposal that his own Department of Revenue found would raise taxes on the rich, the poor, and everyone in between.
By: State Representative Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, Minn., Alexandria Echo Press
One year ago, lawmakers were struggling to decide how to overcome a
$5.1 billion budget deficit. Governor Dayton was touting a proposal
that his own Department of Revenue found would raise taxes on the rich,
the poor, and everyone in between.
A few months later, legislative leadership and Governor Dayton agreed
to balance the budget without raising state taxes, cutting $5 billion
from future spending, while also agreeing to a number of reforms that
would improve future budgets by billions of dollars.
What’s changed in the last year?
Minnesota’s private sector job creators finally realized that state
government was not going hammer them with tax increases, and they
responded in kind by putting more people to work.
In one year, Minnesota’s unemployment numbers have dropped
dramatically. Our unemployment rate was 7.5 percent one year ago. It
is now 5.7 percent. In fact, 32,000 Minnesotans have found work in the
last three months alone.
The result is a $6 billion turnaround in Minnesota’s economy, as that
$5.1 billion deficit has become a $1.2 billion surplus.
With this positive news in mind, the Legislature has attempted to build
on this economic success through job creation proposals and continued
So what have we accomplished?
On the House side, the highlight was the approval of the Tax Relief and
Job Creation Act. This is a comprehensive proposal containing dozens of
initiatives that are designed to allow our business owners to keep more
of their money and invest it in their product and new employees.
One of those proposals included ending the statewide tax on business
property, which will improve our state’s tax climate in an area where
Minnesota is very uncompetitive.
We also voted to cut more red tape by reducing duplicative government
bureaucracy and provide more certainty in the permit process for job
We defeated the ObamaCare Health Insurance Exchange and defeated an
effort to unionize 11,000 small business owners who operate day care
We supported our veterans by passing a permanent tax credit for
employers who hire veterans who are disabled, unemployed or receive food
stamps; and an expansion of the GI bill.
We voted to pay back our debts. Last session, the Legislature and
Governor agreed to extend the school funding shift in order to help
balance the budget. We’ve already eliminated half of this shift
because state law requires that if we have a surplus, it automatically
is used to pay back our schools. The Legislature than went one step
further, by voting to pay back what remained on this shift extension,
and some of shift enacted by the previous legislative leadership, by
using some of the funds now sitting in our cash flow account.
Speaking of schools, we voted to remove statutory language requiring
school districts to focus solely on employee’s seniority during
layoffs, and elevates teacher performance when a district is forced to
eliminate employees. If layoffs need to occur, teacher effectiveness
should be a part of the decision. In the real world, the last one hired
shouldn’t automatically be the first one fired. Job effectiveness
needs to be the driver of those decisions.
The House also voted to require easy-to-understand budget transparency
by cities in order to education and engage taxpayers in local government
Finally, in order to enhance and preserve election integrity, we voted
to give you the opportunity to decide this November whether to support a
Constitutional Amendment requiring Minnesotans to show photo
identification prior to voting.
Again, these are not measures that have been introduced and stalled in
committees. All of them, and hundreds more, have been approved by the
full Minnesota House, and in many cases, the Minnesota Senate. Its true
Governor Dayton may not care for some of the legislation, but that’s
not a justifiable reason for saying the Legislature has done nothing
this session, because the facts show otherwise.
In the past year, Minnesota has made tremendous progress. Our economy
has turned around and our reserve funds have been refilled. Projected
state spending has dramatically decreased. More Minnesotans are
We recognized that government doesn't directly create jobs – but can
foster an environment that encourages job creation and job growth by
cutting red tape, and lowering taxes.
This year, the goal of the Legislature was to improve on that success.
We have done our part, by passing bills that will create jobs, reduce
taxes, and make state government more effective and efficient.
Franson can be reached at 429 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul,
MN 55155; phone: (651) 296-3201; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org