Viewpoint: Lawmakers working on responsible budget
Mike Goggin, R-Red Wing, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4264.
As we near the end of session, we have been passing budget bills off the floor and are preparing for conference committee with the House. We have a lot to get done but are well on our way to nailing down a responsible budget that invests in our state and communities without burdening the taxpayers.
Budget bill update
Here are a some of the highlights from a few of our budget bills:
• The environment bill prioritizes research to control the spread of aquatic and invasive species and chronic wasting disease.
• We cap tuition and fund scholarships to bring costs down for higher education students.
• The E-12 education bill increases funding directly to classrooms and gives local schools flexibility over how it is spent.
• Our Health and Human Services bill demands accountability for the Department of Human Services and cracks down on waste and fraud.
Although the focus is on the budget right now, there are several other bills moving through the Senate. Below are a few that I have carried or been involved with that will be great for our district.
Social Security income
Since 2017, Senate Republicans have been working to phase out taxes on Social Security income. Social Security income is taxed twice — once before you receive it and again when you pay income taxes.
This year I authored a bill to take another bite out of the tax burden, reducing the state income tax on Social Security with the goal of eventually eliminating it altogether.
We want our seniors to stay in Minnesota with their families and friends. This provision was included in the tax relief bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday.
The agriculture and housing bill that passed last week, included a provision from Sen. Rich Draheim that I co-authored. It provides funding to make mental health resources for farmers readily available.
In this negative economic climate, they are battling for their livelihood and it is taking a toll on their mental health. As suicide rates among farmers grow, this provision will give them someone to turn to for counseling and encouragement through these difficult times.
Helmets to Hard Hats
Funding for my Helmets to Hard Hats provision was passed in the jobs budget bill on Monday. Helmets to Hard Hats is a national nonprofit that helps military service members transition into civilian life by connecting them with opportunities in the skilled trades.
All too often, veterans come back from active duty and encounter hurdles starting a new career. This program bridges the gap by assisting veterans in their search for a new occupation.
In 2018, Helmets to Hardhats helped more than 350 veterans, and about 20 new veterans enter the program every month.
Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill I have been working on this session to expand the "Move Over" law.
Under current law, motorists are required to move one full lane over from stopped service vehicles with their lights flashing. The expanded language broadens current law by adding solid waste trucks, recycling trucks, and similar vehicles under the umbrella of the law.
Waste and recycling collectors have the fifth most dangerous job. This is a simple, straightforward fix that will protect both motorists and service vehicle drivers from easily avoidable crashes and injuries.
We have a lot of work left to do, but we have made great progress. As always, please let me know what you think. I appreciate hearing your advice and feedback. You can contact me at: 651-296-5612 or email@example.com.