Thursday, April 1, 2010

Legislative Newsletter from State Representative Larry Howes of Walker

Larry sent this newsletter before the Legislature recessed for the Easter break. I think it's a good review of some recent things going on in St. Paul. My guesses on the trivia question are Chuck Knoblauch, Kirby Puckett, and ??? - Scott Hall

From Larry:

The Legislature passed two bills Monday before members scattered to all four corners of the state for Easter/Passover break.

The first bill that passed is repassage of a bill to erase approximately one-third of the state’s $994 million deficit; it’s the first phase in a three-step process to balance the books as mandated by the Constitution.

There was a lot of heavy debate as Phase 1 was considered, but when the dust settled we approved a plan to reduce spending by $312 million. Cuts were made to local governments, public colleges, agriculture programs and more. The largest cut is a $105 million reduction in Local Government Aid.

This plan was negotiated between Democrat leaders and Gov. Tim Pawlenty. It’s not a perfect bill and Rep. Pat Garofalo and I were the only members of the minority party to vote “yea.”Because the negotiations were conducted in good faith, I felt we should honor the process.

In any case, we still have a budget gap of more than $600 million to fill. The final two phases will address Health and Human Services, and K-12 education. Debate could become even more contentious since those areas represent about 70 percent of state spending and are areas that tend to bring out the emotions.

The Legislature also passed a jobs/taxes bill Monday. It encourages “angel” investors to help start-up companies and create jobs, promotes historic building renovations, and provides JOBZ incentive for the Ford plant to continue operating in St. Paul.

The legislation also included tax credits to aid Mall of America expansion, which could quickly result in numerous jobs through two new developments at the mall worth more than $200 million.

These various programs are paid for by repealing the state’s low-income motor fuels tax credit. Savings from the elimination would be approximately $30.1 million. This bill was not perfect, but it passed by a wide margin and is a step in the right direction by reducing government spending to help erase the deficit. I will continue working to help improve our business climate, where our tax structure still has a lot of room for improvement.

I used to include trivia questions in each of my e-mail updates and figured I’d throw you a baseball one today since the Twins open the 2010 season Monday at the Angels. Here it is: In 1992, for the first time in franchise history, three Twins players scored at least 100 runs.Who were they?

I’ll have the answer for you next week.

Have a blessed Easter or Passover holiday and I hope you are able to enjoy plenty of time with friends and family.

Until next time,


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