In just over two weeks, legislators from across the state will be headed back to St. Paul to get back to work serving Minnesota families.
My Senate Republican colleagues and I have had several months to get feedback from you and residents around Minnesota and have used your insights to form an agenda for the upcoming session. Your feedback has been critical in shaping our plans and has encouraged us to focus on health care, transportation, and the economy as we kick off the new decade.
Over the past several years, Minnesota families have been devastated by the exorbitant premiums resulting from the failure of Obamacare and MNsure. We have also seen our taxpayer’s generosity wasted on continual Department of Human Services failures while others go without needed services.
Our 2020 Vision for healthcare will build on our work in pharmaceutical transparency with an innovative drug reimportation program that gives patients cheaper Canadian drug prices at their local pharmacy. We will also continue to hold the Department of Human Services accountable for the waste and fraud happening under their watch. Senate Republicans will also continue to protect Minnesotans with pre-existing conditions ensuring they aren’t left out of the healthcare marketplace.
One of the significant drivers of our economy and our day to day lives is our transportation infrastructure. Whether you’re a commuter trying to get home from work, a business owner or farmer moving product, or you’re headed into town to run some errands, a safe, efficient transportation network is critical to make this happen.
Over the last four years, we have infused our transportation system with $600 million in new, ongoing funding, and an additional $300 million in one-time transportation funding from bonding. The investment has allowed for the repair and replacement of thousands of lane miles and bridges across Minnesota.
Still, there are many more transportation projects that have gone unfunded. Our 2020 Vision for transportation includes more money for road and bridge construction, including making it a priority in the bonding bill. We can accomplish these goals by using existing money, without forcing you to pay more in gas taxes at the pump.
The economy and the family budget
Minnesota families are the driving force of this state. We care about families, your budget, and the issues that keep you up at night. We want to empower you, reward you for your tireless work, and give you a break when it comes to taxes.
In 2017, we delivered $650 million in tax relief. The package included a reduction in income taxes for seniors receiving Social Security, a tax credit for recent college graduates paying off student loans, a tax credit for beginning farmers, and property tax relief for small businesses.
We followed that up in 2019 with the first middle-class income tax cut in nearly two decades, property tax relief for farmers from local school bonds, and another round of property tax cuts for main street businesses.
Our 2020 Vision for the economy will build on these successes, using the budget surplus for further tax relief for all Minnesota and an increased effort to exempt all Social Security income from Minnesota taxes.
Working for you
As we head into the final session of our term, I will continue to work across the aisle to get things done for Minnesotans. As one of the only states in the nation with a divided government, I have made it a priority to work with Democrats in the House and Gov. Tim without compromising my principles. Ultimately, when the dust settles at the end of the 2020 session, it is my hope you can say life is better for you, your families, and your communities than when I started four years ago.