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Rep. John Benson: We're Working on the State Budget

"There are proposals in the Governor’s budget I plan to support; others that require additional scrutiny. For that reason your continuing input and advice is essential."

Dear neighbors,

Greetings from the Capitol. Since my last newsletter there has been a lot of activity here. We have heard Governor Dayton’s budget proposal and begun the hard work of moving Minnesota toward a financially sound position.

Governor’s budget proposal
Governor Dayton recently released his budget proposal for the 2014-2015 biennium. The proposal is designed to end 15 years of structural deficits.

Governor Dayton’s budget includes new investments in early, K-12, and higher education. His objective is to develop a world-class education system to better ensure Minnesotans are able to learn the skills they need to compete in the rapidly changing global economy.
 
The Governor’s budget also includes significant property tax reductions for middle-class Minnesotans.

To ensure that our state’s businesses are competitive with those in other states and around the world, the Governor’s budget reduces corporate income tax rates, while closing tax loopholes that benefit out-of-state competitors putting the Minnesota businesses at an economic disadvantage.

The proposal also includes new investments to help Minnesota businesses export their products to other countries, move goods more efficiently, and additional economic development programs. I believe these initiatives can help create thousands of new jobs all across Minnesota.

The budget Governor Dayton proposed will not be the one that is signed into law, but it is an honest point of departure for a discussion about what Minnesotans expect from their state government and what investments Minnesota needs to thrive in the future.

There are proposals in the Governor’s budget I plan to support; others that require additional scrutiny. For that reason your continuing input and advice is essential.

Dog and cat breeder regulation
Minnesota currently does not regulate commercial dog and cat breeders. Because of this lack of oversight, unscrupulous breeders are able to exploit dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens for profit. I have co-authored legislation (House File 84) that would license and regulate commercial breeders to ensure that dogs and cats are properly treated.

If you’re interested in learning more about this issue, here is a letter I wrote published in the Minnetonka Patch about similar bill that didn’t get passed last year.

Privacy legislation
You may have read the sobering reports last week about an employee of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was fired for accessing the personal information of 5,000 Minnesotans without a work-related purpose.

This is only one high-profile example of a data privacy violation. To help protect the privacy of Minnesotans, a new privacy bill has been introduced. The new legislation will call for harsher penalties for government employees that improperly access personal information through state databases.

Additionally, when violations do occur it would require agencies to publish their investigations of incidents online and make requests for information by the public easier.

Repeated privacy violations undermine the public trust, the actions of legitimate public servants, and the personal safety of Minnesotans. I fully support this legislation.

Upcoming
The Minnesota Management and Budget department will release another state economic forecast in February. Using this information along with Governor Dayton’s budget proposal, we will begin working through the process of developing a state budget for the next two years.

As the session continues please feel free to contact me with your ideas, questions, or concerns. Your input always is helpful to me.

Sincerely,

John Benson
State Representative
Minnetonka – Plymouth

You can contact me by telephone: (651) 296-9934, by email rep.john.benson@house.mn, or send me mail to 417 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, Minnesota 55155.

Stay informed
Along with these updates, another great way to be informed is to read the non-partisan magazine of the House: The Session Daily, which can be found online at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/sdaily.aspx.

You can also watch House floor sessions at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/schedule.asp.

Consider signing up for email updates on specific bills at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/leg/billsublogin.asp. And you can sign up for email updates on specific committees at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/maillist/mailinglist.asp

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