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Column: Continue positive trends of '13 Legislature

The 2012 election was historic in many regards, and the 2013 legislative session was no less significant. As promised, the Legislature and Governor worked together to balance our state budget once and for all -- without any shifts, gimmicks or games. In a break from recent tradition, we also avoided another "special" session by completing our work on time.

These achievements need to become the new norm.

For the past decade the state has relied upon continued cuts, new fees, and property taxes while kicking many of our budget problems forward. This year, we addressed our recurring budget challenges head on and in the process we've positioned Minnesota for a decade of honest budgeting, smart investments, and meaningful tax reform.

Among our many accomplishments, we made targeted investments in education by: providing full funding for all-day kindergarten; giving our school districts the resources and flexibility needed to succeed; and ensuring tuition relief at our public colleges and universities to help make higher education more accessible and affordable. Human capital is Minnesota's competitive advantage. We need to keep this edge.

In addition, we took great strides to strengthen our rural communities by taking pressure off local units of government -- which should, in turn, take pressure off property tax-paying small businesses and families.

Finally, an unprecedented, smart, and results-driven investment in Mayo Clinic's "destination medical center" project will drive economic development throughout southeastern Minnesota for years to come.

While I firmly believe our entire state will benefit from the direction set by the 2013 Legislature, it's hard to argue that any part of the state came out better than southeastern Minnesota. With these new investments, we're poised for a generation of unprecedented economic growth and improved quality of life.

Although the legislative session is over, our work in St. Paul continues. Providing reliable constituent service and connecting you with resources in state government is important. It's something we take very seriously. To that end, I encourage anyone with a question or concern to contact our office. We'll do our best to provide you with timely information and assistance. After all, staying in touch with our communities and hearing from constituents is essential. It also happens to be my favorite part of the job.

Our work is just beginning, but -- together -- we're making Minnesota work again.