By Rep. Joe McDonald
Minnesota House District 29a
The 2013 legislative session is underway. I am humbled and honored to serve the people of this area as we face challenges at the Capitol.
My top priorities remain building our economy, exercising spending restraint and protecting taxpayers. We made progress in each of these areas as a Republican majority the last two years, and I encourage Democrats to build on what we put in place. Unemployment is down and revenue is rising.
Our state has come a long way compared with the fiscal mess we inherited two years ago. New efficiencies we brought to our state have produced beyond initial projections. We began the 2011 session facing a budget shortfall of more than $6 billion, but have generated combined surpluses of $2.5 billion in three consecutive semi-annual reports. Our previously depleted cash-flow account and rainy-day fund are both restored.
Best of all, we are making huge progress in paying back delayed funding to our schools. Not only have we repaid the entire shift which was part of the budget compromise in 2011, but we also have paid back approximately half of the delayed K-12 funds enacted under the previous Democrat majority. We need to fully square this debt as soon as possible.
On a semi-related note, I will be working to correct funding disparities between the metro area and Greater Minnesota. The state appropriates approximately $14,000 per year to each metro student, while children in counties like Wright receive $8,000. We also need to do more to shrink the achievement gap between various segments of students throughout Minnesota. I will be close to these situations as a member of the Education Finance Committee (in addition to my other responsibilities with Health and Human Services Finance and Legacy committees).
I look forward to continuing serving as your voice in St. Paul and welcome your input throughout the session. You can reach me at my legislative office by calling 651-296-4336 or by emailing email@example.com.