Sen. Bruce Anderson's Column
Thu, 05/08/2014 - 11:00pm admin
The minimum wage increase passed the Senate prior to the Easter/Passover break with no Republican support, and with bipartisan opposition. The day after the Senate vote WCCO radio reported that a group named “Rock Your Block”, which helps teens find jobs, said that the new minimum wage would hurt their ability to assist young people in finding a job. One of my Republican colleagues offered an amendment on the floor which would have raised the minimum wage to the federal level of $7.25. I supported this increase as it was reasonable and would not hurt Minnesota’s business climate or employment in the way that raising the minimum wage by more than 50 percent will.
This minimum wage increase also includes automatic inflationary increases which will cause great uncertainty in the business climate of Minnesota, and uncertainty in prices of everyday household goods. The Governor signed the minimum wage increase into law April 14, 2014.
The MNsure enrollment deadline has passed. Minnesotans without health insurance are now locked out of purchasing coverage, and will continue without insurance until at least Jan 1, 2015. This is different from last year, when Minnesotans could choose to buy private insurance at any time. People without insurance who end up with life threatening diagnoses will be forced to pay out of pocket, or go to emergency rooms for care for the rest of 2014. There are so many real consequences of MNsure/Obamacare including:
• The 240,000 Minnesotans who have lost their health insurance because of President Obama and Gov. Mark Dayton’s broken promise that you could keep your plan
•Minnesota families and seniors who are seeing their premiums and deductibles rise and are not able to get the treatments they need, including for diseases such as cancer or insulin for young children
•People who were forced to abandon their life-long doctor because of limited choices
•Innocent people whose Social Security numbers were compromised and are at risk of identity theft $160 million of taxpayer dollars wasted on a website that is still not working, with many forms still being processed on paper, all while Obamacare officials are getting excessive bonuses
Nearly everyone agrees that MNsure has had a rocky beginning but, without significant work, the program is unlikely to improve. Unfortunately, legislation and suggestions to make these improvements are continually ignored by those who control the agendas. If we can’t work together to address these issues, Minnesotans will be the ones who suffer. This is not a choice option; rather this is a mandate with consequences! Penalties are now invoked!
Supplemental Budget Bill
The Supplemental Budget Conference Committee began its work last Tuesday resolving differences between the House and Senate bills. The Senate bill spends another $209 million this budget cycle, with spending which increases to $742 million in future budgets. This bill contained important and practical spending decisions such as increased transportation funding and a 5% increase for home health care workers, which I wholeheartedly support. Unfortunately, this bill grows government and has misplaced priorities and I had to vote against it. Reasonable spending which benefits the whole state is beneficial, but this bill asks for too much and I’m concerned it will put a strain on future budgets.
Tax Bill 2
There's no doubt that Minnesotans have been overtaxed after last year's $2.1 billion tax increase, and the second tax bill passed by the Senate is the second tax relief package meant to correct some of those mistakes. However, even with this bill, taxpayers are only getting back a quarter of the extra taxes they paid last year. Democrats raised taxes so they could grow government spending by more than 10%, but Minnesotans haven't seen 10% growth in their household budgets.
While I did vote for this bill, it only corrects a few of the mistakes of the 2013 session. There is not enough in this bill that will help taxpayers or spur economic growth. Republicans proposed a Families First Agenda that included a permanent ½ percent reduction in the sales tax that would benefit everyone, instead of the small piecemeal approach of this bill. This ½% reduction would have been a $395 million taxpayer benefit per year, if it would have passed.
Bills to adjust the tax increases from last year are the only major legislation moving this session with bipartisan support. The 2014 session will go down as one of the most partisan on record. No overall tax target has been to date by the DFL Majority. The tax conference committee met this past Monday after session.
April 9, 2014 the Gov. signed the Anti-Bullying Bill into law. The legislation will expose our schools to potential lawsuits (a similarly worded law in NJ already is facing a 1st Amendment lawsuit), forces a $19 million per year unfunded mandate on our schools, lacks any requirement for parental notification or involvement, reduces freedom of speech and shifts local control to state bureaucrats. The anti-bullying legislation was not requested by our schools - and most schools say they don't need or want it. I supported a reasonable alternative that would have fixed all those problems, but it was rejected on a party line vote in the Senate.
Keep in Touch
I believe strongly in constituent services so please contact me with questions or comments or if you need any assistance on a state government issue.
Sen. Bruce Anderson
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155