We're resolved, despite obstacles, to do what we were sent to do.
As the Legislature moves forward with the 2012 session and nears its completion, it's a good time to reflect on the progress we've made and to renew our focus on the task at hand. Our focus in the Legislature is on what is important for Minnesotans -- and in the best interest of Minnesota.
Since the beginning of session, Senate Republicans have taken action on important issues like jobs, the economy and government redesign. We continue to do so.
We ask our Democrat colleagues to resist bringing forward distractions and obstructing our state's progress. All of our voices are important in this process, and we encourage our friends on the other side of the aisle to join with us as we work for the best interest of Minnesota.
The Senate majority is resolved to complete the task Minnesota sent us here to do, despite repeated efforts by the minority to throw us off course. We know there are many important issues going through the legislative process today that will brighten Minnesota's tomorrow.
Looking to successfully complete this legislative session early -- and yes, "early" is the operative word -- we need to look at four major issues left for us to address:
We should pass a tax bill that will move Minnesota's economy forward, encourage job growth and correct some of the tax policy provisions vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton last year. These measures include the phaseout of the statewide business property tax, enhancement of the property tax refund for homeowners and elimination of the marriage penalty (vetoed by Dayton last year). Lifting tax burdens on job creators and individuals will enhance the economy's recovery and job growth.
We should take care of the delayed payments to our schools that have been used as a partial budget-balancing action for the past several years. Democrats used this shift, and so have Republicans. However, with the recently announced budget surplus, it is time to make it right by the kids of the state. We have introduced and heard legislation to reverse the portion of the shift that was part of the compromise to end the shutdown, and this legislation is working its way through the committee process.
We should continue to work to improve the integrity of the election process so that Minnesotans can have confidence that their vote counts. This means passage of the Voter Photo Identification bill, which will place the question of photo identification on the ballot for the voters of Minnesota to decide in November. This measure is supported by an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans, as shown by multiple independent polls.
Last, we should pass a prudent bonding bill aimed at building statewide infrastructure like roads, bridges, higher-education facilities, correctional-facility needs, etc. The Legislature approved a nearly $500 million bonding bill in 2011 that made substantial investments in the state's core infrastructure. Any bonding bill produced this year should contain projects of statewide and regional significance so that taxpayers get the value they deserve from their investment.
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Senate Republicans intend to stay the course and remain steadfastly committed to taking action on important issues for Minnesota. We move forward fully recognizing that there will always be attempts to distract, sway and obstruct the progress we make.
Economic prosperity is within reach, as shown by the recent positive budget balance. Now is the time to join together, stop the political games and do what is right for our state.
David Senjem, R-Rochester, is the state Senate majority leader.