Editor's Note: The following is a column by Richfield Rep. Linda Slocum, released by the Minnesota House of Representatives.
The 2012 Legislative Session has adjourned, bringing an end to the 2011-2012 legislative biennium. I want to provide you with information about the session and what lies ahead.
There were some bright spots of this session including the passage of a $500 million bipartisan bonding bill. I came here with the goal of job creation and this bill will create jobs. Public infrastructure across our entire state will benefit and the bonding bill will start work on our many worthwhile projects.
On another positive note, Richfield will receive a $300,000 increase in aid. This will help maintain Richfield’s police, firefighters, and meet other needs. I was pleased to vote for the bipartisan bill that contained this aid. I also worked in a bipartisan fashion this biennium to secure funding to enhance the Bloomington Lindau Lane corridor. Improving the Lindau Lane Corridor will create jobs, increase the value of nearby real estate, and improve public safety. I am ready to work with our local leaders to continue to move this important project forward.
Unfortunately, our state leaves this session with a deficit (the same way we entered it), a struggling economy, lack of property tax fairness, inadequately funded schools, and a shrinking middle class. I’m deeply concerned about the gridlock and misplaced priorities that seemed to grip the Capitol these last two years, and I’m disappointed we couldn’t do more to help middle-class Minnesotans.
Last year, an unwillingness to compromise led to the longest government shutdown in state history. The final budget—which I did not support—borrowed record amounts from our schools, eliminated the Homestead Tax Credit, and, for the first time ever, engaged our state in deficit spending through the use of tobacco bonds. This is troubling to me and should also be troubling to any Minnesotan who values bipartisanship and wants our state government to function properly.
The legislature was distracted by misplaced priorities. Rather than helping middle-class Minnesotans, we spent time on controversial constitutional amendments, ignored repeated efforts to pass a comprehensive jobs plan, and ignored the pleas of Minnesotans whose property taxes skyrocketed.
I was disappointed that the legislature did not pass any middle class tax relief this session. There is no question – property taxes are too high and must be lowered. Restoration of the Homestead Credit is the best method for property tax relief and why I have co-authored a bill to bring it back. Sadly, the majority chose to pursue corporate property tax cuts at the expense of Minnesota renters and homeowners.
Looking forward, it is clear we must address the bread and butter issues vital to a successful future in Minnesota. We have ended another session without focusing on the issues that truly matter to Minnesotans.
Beyond that, I’m concerned that we’ve developed a clear values deficit. Protecting big corporations is not a Minnesota value or priority. A rigid refusal to work together to get things done is not the Minnesota way and shouldn’t be treated as a virtue. The right approach is to work together, with a focus on what we have in common. Minnesota has always been strongest when we worked together; focused on strong schools, fair taxes, and a growing middle class. Those will continue to be my priorities as long as I have the privilege to represent you.
It has been and continues to be an honor to serve you in the Minnesota House. I look forward to being able to spend more time in the district and please continue to contact me with your questions, comments, and opinions.