Rep. Kurt Daudt speaks about the state budget as Rep. Jenifer Loon, left, and Sen David Hann look on, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 in St. Paul, Minn.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

GOP leaders: With fiscal discipline, state thrives

  • Article by: DAVID HANN and KURT DAUDT
  • January 15, 2013 - 10:14 PM

Two years ago, Minnesota's economic outlook was bleak. Unemployment was at 7 percent, and the state's budget projections showed a $6.2 billion budget deficit.

Today, the picture has brightened. Unemployment has dropped to 5.7 percent, and the state's budget shows a $2.5 billion surplus for 2012-13. In 2012, 18 percent more new businesses filed than in 2011 --the second-highest number of new filings in our state's history -- and Minnesota gained more than 55,000 jobs in the past year.

The progress we've made in the last two years is promising, but our recovery is fragile.

The budget outlook for 2014-15 is significantly improved but still in the red. What was once projected to be a $4.4 billion shortfall for 2014-15 is now $1.1 billion. We've tackled larger deficits before -- and we're prepared to roll up our sleeves and do it again.

As Republican leaders in the Minnesota House and Senate, we're ready to work with the new DFL majorities and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton on positive solutions for our state.

Let's work together. Let's work for Minnesotans.

For Republicans in the Legislature, our focus is on the budget. We hope the DFL will join us in prioritizing economic growth that will benefit all Minnesotans. We don't think raising tax rates is the answer.

Last week, DFL leaders in both the House and Senate announced their interest in increasing sales, gas, property and income taxes. One suburban DFL lawmaker has even suggested increasing income taxes across all tax brackets.

How does taking more money out of the pockets of businesses and families grow jobs for Minnesotans?

Responsible budgeting in the past two years has generated increased state revenues without increased tax rates. Our November budget forecast showed $1.7 billion in additional tax revenue for the next biennium without raising a single penny in new taxes.

As we work to craft the next budget, the new DFL majorities will have $1.7 billion more taxes than Republicans had two years ago when we put our budget together. In this economy, that should be enough.

We know there is a large "wish list" of spending proposals and policy prescriptions that came with the massive campaign contributions by liberal allies to the DFL in the last election. In contrast, the Republican wish list is to grow Minnesota's economy, not its government.

Instead of shaking down middle-class Minnesotans and small businesses for more cash, let's shake up state government. We need to do what every successful business does: think creatively to provide better products and services at a lower cost.

Last session there was bipartisan support for legislation to streamline the permitting process. Cutting red tape improves the business climate by encouraging investment and job creation. Reforms like that make it easier for job creators to thrive in Minnesota and should be the shared priority of both parties.

Both Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Speaker of the House Paul Thissen have said publicly that November's election results meant Minnesotans want Republicans and Democrats to work together. We Republicans are ready to work side by side with our DFL colleagues to the tackle the challenges ahead.

We know we have differences, but we also know we share the desire to keep Minnesota on the right track. After all, all our children share the same future.

We want to encourage the public to participate as well. You can keep up to date with all the latest news from the Capitol by visiting this website. You can weigh in and provide feedback by connecting with us on Facebook here and here.

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David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, is minority leader of the Minnesota Senate. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, is minority leader of the Minnesota House.

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