January 29, 2013 Legislative Update:
- Governor Dayton’s Budget Plan
- Keystone Pipeline Update
- Vikings Stadium Update
- Progress on Jobs
Governor Dayton’s Budget Plan
This has been a hot topic of conversation everywhere in Minnesota. You have been hearing from both sides about how this will impact you – there is a huge argument going on right now about who’s paying what, how much, etc… The spin has gotten so bad it’s hard for me to keep it all straight.
I’m going to try to weed through the BS and give you the bottom line:
- You will pay few bucks more for things like haircuts, auto repairs, and articles of clothing over 100 dollars because there will now be sales tax on those things
- You will pay less taxes on things already taxed because they are lowering the overall sales tax rate – so this means when you go to buy a car, a washing machine, or anything that is already taxed you are going to pay less at the register than you would now, a lot less for big ticket items
- You are going to get a $500 check from the state to help offset the property tax increases we have all experienced the last 10 years
- When you add all this up for yourself at the end of the year, chances are you will actually pay less taxes than you do now
- This plan raises a couple of billion dollars in revenue because some people, mostly high income earners and businesses, will pay more taxes for sure
- To find out more detail about the math – click here: http://www.mn.gov/governor/budget/toolkit/
What is the money raised going to be spent on?
- Education – more money for schools, a lot more, which is good for our kids
- Transit – more money for light rail and busses in Twin Cities – some jobs for you, not enough
- Property Tax Relief – that $500 you will get in the mail to help offset your property tax increases
- Local Government Aid – this is more money for cities and counties to help pay for snow plowing, cops, firefighters and local road repairs – this is good for our public sector members
All of us are sick and tired of politicians not telling us the truth. All we want them to do is level with us, tell us what needs to be fixed, how we are going to make it happen and then get it done. Governor Dayton
is the first leader of this state to tell us the truth in a long time. He has put forward a budget that is honest. It has no gimmicks and no magic accounting. He is not telling you that we can have everything we want and pay nothing for it like most other politicians. He is saying here are the investments he thinks we need to make and here is how we need to pay for them.
Local 49 doesn’t like everything in this budget, it is far from perfect. There has to be more new state money for roads and bridges in it for example. But we respect Governor Dayton for being willing to put politics aside to lay out his ideas honestly for discussion. What Governor Dayton is doing is called leadership – and it has been in short supply in this country for a long time. We look forward to working with the Governor to move this state forward.
Keystone Pipeline Update
Last week the Governor of Nebraska sent President Obama a letter saying that the issues in his state regarding the route of the pipeline have been officially resolved. There are now no outstanding issues preventing the President from approving the Keystone Pipeline.
Shortly after the Governor of Nebraska sent his letter the International Union of Operating Engineers joined with a bi-partisan group of Senators to call on the President to approve the Keystone Pipeline. There is no organization that has pushed harder for this project than our International Union, and we owe them great thanks, they are completely on top of this issue and have been a tremendous help to us.
Local 49 has followed the lead of the International Union and helped out in our jurisdiction. Our members have called their Senator’s and Congresspersons, they have sent personal postcards to the President, hundreds of us showed up in Pierre for hearings, and I have expressed our strong support to the politicians in our jurisdiction. We have done everything that we can do to make it clear that our members strongly support the approval of Keystone and the thousands of construction jobs that come with it.
If you wish to speak to your Congressperson or Senator about this issue you should do so, ask them to ask the President to approve Keystone so that you can go to work. Call this number and they can patch you through to your representative’s office.
Vikings Stadium Update
Just a quick word on this as we have gotten some calls from members asking about the progress on the stadium. Three firms have put forward bids to manage the project, including local union contractor Mortensen Construction. There will be a Project Labor Agreement on this facility which will help ensure that it gets done on time and on budget. The bid will be awarded in the next few weeks and construction will start later this year.
There has been a lot of news recently about the funding for the stadium – specifically concerns that the revenue coming in from electronic pull tabs is not meeting projections. We have looked into this, and there are some legitimate reasons why it is lower right now and the state is still very confident that the expected revenue will be there. It is a matter of the market for these machines working itself out. Once that happens fully, this is already starting to happen with more frequency right now, the market will generate the revenue necessary to pay for the stadium. The state also has some time for this market to mature; they built in 9 months before payments are due, and so patience is what is called for.
If this becomes a more serious issue, we will keep you posted, but everyone we are talking to is still very confident this funding is solid.
Progress On Jobs
I am working on some issues at the Capitol this session that have the opportunity to create thousands of construction jobs. Industrial Sand Mining, Copper-Nickel Mining, and an expansion of the property around the Mall of America are all projects that will generate significant job opportunities for our members. When it comes to the mining issues, I am working with business to stop any moratorium efforts which would kill these industries. We are working diligently to build a strong majority of elected officials that support the creation of these new mining opportunities with the needed environmental safeguards in place to make sure we do it right. We are making great progress on those issues, and I am feeling positive about our chances to stop any efforts to kill mining outright.
I am feeling equally positive about the efforts to move forward a tax package that will allow for significant expansion at and near the Mall of America. There is strong support for this project in both houses of the Legislature and the Governor’s office. There are some details to be worked out, but every day we are making progress towards these jobs.
It is early in the session, so things are moving slowly, and we are laying the groundwork right now. I will keep you posted on these efforts moving forward and I might call on members to show up at hearings along the way to voice our support for jobs.
Legislative and Political Director
Follow me on twitter: @JGeorge49