Issues

Jobs and the Economy

Government does not create jobs. It is government’s responsibility to create a healthy environment for job growth by reducing tax and regulatory burdens that are currently stifling Minnesota businesses. As I talk to business owners, particularly in the manufacturing industry, they have shared that the permitting process can take upwards of two years to get the permits necessary to build or expand. We need critical tax reform and tax reductions to make Minnesota more competitive. We also need to eliminate burdensome regulations that make it difficult for businesses to grow and succeed.

To this end, a version of my bill to reduce the statewide business property tax was included in our bipartisan Tax bill in 2017 to freeze the automatic inflator and exempt the first $100,000 of business property taxes for businesses throughout Minnesota – benefitting small businesses the most.

Fiscal Responsibility

Minnesota families are already stretched to the limit and pay enough of their hard-earned income in taxes. Many government programs are on auto-pilot to spend more than we take in, we must reform government to be more efficient and effective to provide better services at lower costs. I support lower taxes and fiscal responsibility in state spending by closely examining our government programs to eliminate fraud, abuse and duplicative services because government needs to live within its means. State government spending should not grow faster than our family budgets.

During the 2017 Session, the Legislature provided Minnesotans with $650 million in tax relief in 2018-2019 and $790 million in 2020-2021; some highlights include:

  • A family of four earning up to $40,000 received a $1,320 Dependent Care Credit if they spent $6,000 on child care expenses, and a family of four earning up to $50,000 a year received $1,200 toward their child care expenses.
  • Social Security Income taxes were eliminated for 72,000 seniors and reduced for another 212,000 seniors, providing tax relief for a total of 284,000 seniors.
  • 65,000 students received an average of a $414 reduction in their taxes through a new tax credit for student loan payments.

World-Class Education

District 196 is a leader in innovation and fiscal responsibility. We have excellent teachers, and we need to give them the tools and authority to give our students the best opportunity to reach their full potential. I support policies and innovative ways to ensure that we can attract and retain the best teachers. I support school choice to give parents the flexibility to provide their children with the educational opportunities that work best for their families.

We need to ensure our suburban schools are fairly funded and that our education dollars are being spent wisely with a focus on student achievement and success. As a former Personal Care Attendant, I believe that it is important to effectively fund our Special Education programs.

Since Fiscal Year 2015, the Legislature has increased state education funding by nearly $2.9 billion, an 18% increase, with a focus on putting more dollars in the classroom, resulting in a per pupil increase of $1,173, or 12%. The 2018-2019 budget dedicated $1.3 billion more towards education, approximately $600 more per pupil. I am committed to continuing to responsibly funding our schools so our students can have the best opportunities to succeed in life.

School Safety and Mental Health

Keeping our community's children safe in the classroom was a top priority entering the 2017-2018 Session. My colleagues and I on the K-12 Education Committees spent hours listening to local stakeholders to find workable solutions.

As a result, the Legislature championed a number of student safety initiatives to provide resources, funding, and flexibility to school districts to help keep kids safe and address student mental health. I was proud to be the chief author of several bills that were included in this School Safety package. While Governor Dayton vetoed many of those measures, the Bonding bill signed into law included $25 million in funding to improve student safety and security in school districts statewide.

In addition to school safety measures, the Legislature stood up for children who are suffering with mental health issues. We preserved access and funding for children's mental health centers and provided mental health grants to expand mental health crisis services throughout the state.

Affordable Health Care

Minnesota has always been recognized for our world-class quality health care system. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) here in Minnesota, known as MNSure, has shown to be a disaster and threatens to undo our world-class quality. I support repeal of the ACA and MNSure, and I support reforms such as free-market competition, vouchers, and health savings accounts to make health care more affordable and accessible while ensuring that consumers remain in control of their own health care decisions.

During the 2017 Session, the Legislature worked to lower costs and increase options for Minnesotans who have seen multiple years of double-digit premium increases and been restricted from seeing their doctors because of the ACA. The Legislature also provided a 25% rebate and ensured continued access to doctors for people receiving life-saving treatment.

Seniors and Protecting Our Most Vulnerable

Taking care of our aging loved ones and those most vulnerable among us is a top priority for me. As a former Personal Care Attendant, I believe we need greater efficiency and integrity in our public assistance programs, while ensuring a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens.

During the 2017 Session, legislation was included in the Tax bill reducing Minnesota seniors' tax burden on social security benefits; 284,000 senior citizen tax filers received tax reductions; 72,000 of whom no longer pay any state income tax on their social security benefits.

I voted for legislation that would have protected seniors and vulnerable adults living in long-term care facilities from abuse and exploitation. The reforms included in this legislation passed by the Legislature in 2018 addressed all the recommendations made by the non-partisan Office of the Legislative Auditor who investigated the failings of the Office of Health Facility Complaints. Unfortunately, these reforms were vetoed.

Over the past few years, the Legislature passed into law several other critical measures to support our aging loved ones in long-term care facilities and protect seniors from abuse and financial exploitation.

Veterans

The brave men and women who have served our country fearlessly cannot be forgotten. Because of this belief, I have been an active voice for our veterans.

During the 2016 Session, legislation was signed into law providing 18,000 veterans in Minnesota a state income tax exemption on their military retiree benefits; our nation's heroes deserve this financial break. In the 2018 Session, funding was provided to build three new veterans’ homes and improve existing veterans’ homes because Minnesotans expect our veterans to be honored and well-taken care of.

I also chief authored a bill to rename the County Road 46 bridge over U.S. Highway 52 in Coates to the "Corporal Benjamin S. Kopp Memorial Bridge" in memory of Corporal Kopp who was a Rosemount native who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Afghanistan.

Transportation

Maintaining a safe and reliable road and bridge infrastructure in Minnesota is critical to allowing families to get to work, school and recreational outings. During the 2017 Session, the Legislature invested more than $300 million into our transportation infrastructure without increasing the gas tax, including an additional $16 million for small cities' road projects and $25 million in funding to repair or replace 97 bridges statewide.

During the 2018 Session, the Legislature passed legislation that would have invested an additional $57 million in funding for roads and bridges, unfortunately, Governor Dayton vetoed this funding. However, the 2018 Bonding bill signed into law by Governor Dayton includes $519 million for long-term transportation needs.

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