It is less than one week into the 2010 Legislative Session, and already
the Minnesota Senate is facing some tough issues and encountering some
spirited debate. Here is an update from this week.
BONDING BILL. The Governor indicated last fall that he would support a
bonding bill that was "affordable, responsible, and features only
projects that have statewide impact." I have worked closely with the
Governor's office and our area leaders to get projects in the bill
that will benefit community and our state at large.
On Tuesday, we took up the Senate's version of the bonding bill.
Unfortunately, as a member of the minority party, I have no control over
what irresponsible projects that get included in the bill. I can only
fight for projects that are good investments for Minnesota. I have been
assured by the Governor's office that he will cut the unnecessary and
The bill includes $6 million for a waste-to-energy facility for
Pope/Douglas Soild Waste Management Expansion to help build a third
With the additional combuster, several local businesses and public
facilities will be able to expand and provide additional growth.
Douglas County Hospital, 3M, and Alexandria Technical College will
benefit from this project directly which will help the long term
vitality of our community. This is a great long term investment for our
community and the embodies the true intent of the bonding bill.
STATE OF THE STATE. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty gave his final
State of the State address under the fog of a $1.2 billion shortfall,
asking what we can do to make Minnesota a better place to grow private
sector jobs and economy. His answer -- listen to the people who create
jobs, get out of their way, and don't make it harder for businesses to
That is good advice. Minnesota's tax system is antiquated and the
business tax climate is the eighth worst in the nation. We have the
third highest corporate tax rate in the developed world and personal
income and sales tax rate among highest in the country, with no
preferential rate for capital gains. In a nutshell, this costs Minnesota
Governor Pawlenty proposed a job creation bill containing a 20%
reduction in the corporation tax rate, a 20% exclusion from taxation for
small business, an angel investment tax credit, a "supercharged"
research & development tax credit, a capital gains exclusion for
qualified investments, and incentives for companies to invest in
Minnesota's small businesses.
Governor Pawlenty will release his proposed $1.2 billion in budget cuts
GAMC. On Thursday morning the Senate was set to convene at 8:30 AM to
take up the reinstatement of the General Assistance Medical Care
Program, which was eliminated through the process of unallotment last
year. In an eleventh-hour change to the bill was made by the chair of
the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, significant portions of
the legislation were altered, complicating the intent and shifting the
financial obligations. Only a select few were made aware of the changes
in advance and the rest of us scrambled to understand the intricate
details in the few minutes before the bill was slated for discussion and
People who had been recipients of the state welfare medical program had
been scheduled to be enrolled into the MinnesotaCare program, which
nearly mirrors benefits provided by GAMC. A major difference is that
under MNCare, recipients are required to pay co-pays on a sliding fee
scale with premiums as high as $6 per month with $4 co-pays for some
services. This ensures that they have a responsibility towards their
I offered an amendment to the bill that would prevent anyone convicted
of criminal sexual predatory conduct from ever receiving GAMC benefits
once they are out of prison. Unfortunately, the DFL majority felt that
these sexual predators should receive taxpayer funded benefits and the
amendment failed on a roll call vote (23-42). Three Democrats voted in
favor of the amendment.
The reinstatement of GAMC, which passed 45-20 on a straight party line
vote, generates a net increase of $168.7 million to the General Fund in
a budget already facing a $1.2 billion deficit.
Thanks for taking the time to read my update and please feel free to
contact me with your questions and comments.
Bill Ingebrigtsen is state senator for District 11, which includes Douglas, Grant, Stevens and Todd Counties