State Capitol Update from Rep. Denny McNamara

Photo By: Teresa Boardman

By Rep. Denny McNamara, 12/5/2011

Hello from St. Paul,

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and have been enjoying the holiday season. State lawmakers received an early and unexpected Christmas present on December 1 – an $876 million state budget surplus.

I am pleased with the developments, but lawmakers need to act with caution and not repeat the mistakes of previous legislatures.

Last November, the voters told us to stop wasting their money and to be fiscally responsible with their dollars. We listened, and though we had to make some difficult choices along the way, we ended the cycle of multi-billion dollar budget deficits in less than one year.

The main reason for the surplus was because the Legislature chose to spend only what Minnesota was projected to bring in. We tightened our belts within areas of the budget that had huge areas of projected growth – such as health and human services – and saved the taxpayers $348 million. More good news: Minnesota’s jobs and wages are expected to grow faster when compared to the U.S. economy.

Those with ideas on how to spend this surplus should know state law says we’re going save it. $255 million will be used to fully restore Minnesota’s cash flow account, and the remaining $621 million will be placed in Minnesota’s budget reserves.

Further, it was just four years ago that a different legislature had a $2 billion surplus and spent it. Based on the decisions made by that Legislature in 2007, we had several years of record budget shortfalls. This Legislature will not follow that spending path when session resumes in January.

Taking a $5.1 billion budget deficit and turning it into a nearly $1 billion surplus in just a few months time was certainly unexpected by almost everyone. I look at this report as validation that we are headed down the right economic path. Now is not the time to sit back and be proud that we’ve ended the several year run of budget deficits. We need to continue to look for ways to keep our economy healthy, such as continued government reform, job creation, and smarter spending. If we can implement more of these policies, I’m confident our economy will remain in the black.

While I’m pleased with how the budget is looking, I am troubled by Governor Dayton’s decision to sign an Executive Order calling for an election to determine whether private child care providers should unionize.

It would be one thing if all 11,000 in-home providers across the state actually could make their voices heard. But according to the Governor’s very political order, only 4,287 of them will have the opportunity to vote on their future because they receive state subsidies.

So if you run a daycare and don’t receive money from the state, you’re out of luck when it comes to voting – yet if the union is approved by the subgroup that is allowed to cast a ballot, the decisions made by the union and state government going forward will likely impact all providers.

Despite this unfair election, daycare unionization brings up so many other questions that providers and parents should be thinking about, such as do you really want state government and/or unions telling providers how to run their business? And what about the costs? Most moms and dads I know are already struggling to pay the bills; the last thing they need is to pay higher daycare rates thanks to state government getting involved.

If you’re a daycare provider that’s allowed to vote, I strongly encourage you to do so. If you’re one of the 7,000 whose voice is being muzzled, or a parent that’s concerned about this process, I urge you to contact the Governor at 800-657-3717 and express your feelings.

Keep in touch,

Representative Denny McNamara
Dist. 57B
Chair of the Committee on Environment, Energy
and Natural Resources Policy and Finance
375 State Office Building
100 Rev.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, Mn. 55155-1298
Phone (651) 296-3135

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