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Column: New session begins on cooperative note

Mike Goggin, R-Red Wing, can be reached at sen.mike.goggin@senate.mn or 651-296-4264.

The new legislative session begins on Jan. 8. Though we are entering a new year, with a new governor and a new House majority, my goals remain the same: to do my best for the people of Senate District 21 and all of Minnesota.

Senate Republicans are now the experienced body, and we will be a responsible steady hand during negotiations. Gov. Tim Walz will be learning on the job, and incoming Speaker Melissa Hortman and the new House Majority will have to show they can lead. Early signals from both leaders, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka's long track record as a consensus builder, give me optimism that negotiations will not be as divisive as they have been the last eight years.

This is good news, because we will all have to work together in order to build on the success of the last two years.

If you recall, in 2017 and 2018 we passed the largest tax cut in two decades; the largest investment in roads and bridges in 10 years without raising the gas tax or tab fees; and a nationally recognized reinsurance program that succeed in stabilizing the individual health insurance market.

The issues

So what are some of the issues that will be on our agenda in 2019?

A constitutionally mandated balanced budget will be one of our priorities. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the Senate, the DFL House, and Gov. Walz to construct a responsible budget. We have to fund our priorities, like roads and education, but we also have a duty to be good stewards of taxpayer's hard-earned dollars.

Despite the success of the last two years, government-controlled health care is still unaffordable for too many families.

Walz and most, if not all, Democrats have signaled support for some form of single payer health care. It sounds appealing, but it would be a mess. We'd have to double our state budget virtually overnight to cover the costs.

There's a reason that states like Vermont and California abandoned their single-payer plans. It's simply too expensive and does not give patients the freedom to direct their own health care.

I support more competition and more consumer-friendly reforms that improve transparency. And under no circumstances will I support eliminating coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Minnesota has a long history of supporting people with pre-existing conditions, and no matter what happens we will make sure they are taken care of.

Child care concerns

Child care costs will be a top priority. I serve on the Child Care Access Working Group, and as we toured the state this summer we heard the same complaints over and over — costs are too high, it's too hard to find care, and government regulations are making it impossible to stay in business. We will address all these issues.

We also will clean up unfinished business from last session. Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a lot of bills that had bipartisan support. The three most prominent bills would have addressed the ongoing opioid crisis, protected seniors from elder care abuse, and protected thousands of Minnesotans from an unintended federal tax increase. These bills — and the families they would have helped — deserve a second chance.

Above all, I work for you. I would love to hear your feedback, your ideas, and your concerns. Please don't hesitate to contact me any time at sen.mike.goggin@senate.mn or 651-296-5612.

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