Opinion: Should Committees be a “Rubber Stamp”?
Rep. Joyce Peppin's newsletter update for Feb. 6, 2013, including legislators begining to study Gov. Dayton’s budget plan.
The following was reprinted with permission from the Feb. 6, 2013 update from Rep. Joyce Peppin. Peppin represents several communities, including Maple Grove and Rogers.
1. Legislators Begin to Study Gov. Dayton’s Budget Plan
Work continues on analyzing the governor’s budget and tax increase proposals to determine what the net effect may be for Minnesota families. The plan increases state spending by $2.5 billion and increases taxes on Minnesotans by nearly $3.7 billion. Governor Dayton has stated that his intent is to raise more revenue with the goal to even out the “boom and bust” budget cycles Minnesota has experienced in the last decade.
As a member of the Taxes committee and a strong supporter of small business, I am concerned that the governor plans to increase spending by 153% more than the growth of the economy. The plan proposes across-the-board funding increases but is very light on spending reform.
In addition, the governor’s proposal does not fully fund his plan to institute all-day kindergarten, and it does not address funding disparities for school districts, disparities which negatively impact school districts in the northwest suburbs, including Osseo-Maple Grove, Anoka-Hennepin, and Elk River.
This budget is by no means set in stone, but legislators have a long way to go in the coming months to make it accountable to the people of Minnesota.
2. Should Committees be a “Rubber Stamp”?
Last week in the Subcommittee on Employee Relations, I had questions about a bill that allocates $250 million to state employee contracts. The chairman promptly stated that there was time for questions in other committees, but we were merely a “rubber stamp” to move the bill along.
As elected officials, I believe it is our job to dig into the details and to ask the tough questions. Every step of the way, through the oftentimes long and arduous committee process, we need to make sure we’re providing a good value for the taxpayers of the state. If we’re not asking tough questions, we’re not doing our job.
Our state employees are hardworking and dedicated to their professions, but I believe it is necessary to closely analyze these contracts that have a significant fiscal impact on the state. This, just like any other bill, should not be “rubber stamped.”
On Thursday I made a motion on the House floor to re-refer the bill to the Government Operations committee. The new majority made the decision to skip it in the process, even though custom and usage shows us that the bill goes through Government Operations. The motion was defeated on a party line vote. While my motion was not successful, I will continue to analyze this and all legislation with an eye to protecting taxpayers.
3. Visitors from the District
Nearly every day during session is a “Day at the Capitol” for different groups and associations. Last week I was pleased to meet with constituents from the Minnesota Credit Union Network and the Builders Association of Minnesota.
As always, feel free to contact me at any time. I am honored to serve the people and priorities of our district.
Have a great week,