BY DISTRICT 54B REP. TONY JURGENS The 2022 legislative session is underway, and over the next three and a half months I expect three topics to dominate the headlines at the State Capitol: public …
BY DISTRICT 54B REP. TONY JURGENS
The 2022 legislative session is underway, and over the next three and a half months I expect three topics to dominate the headlines at the State Capitol: public safety, capital investment, and the economy.
Minnesota currently has a $7.746 billion surplus. It also has a state government that is fully funded, as budgets for all state government programs were put in place last session. This means government is collecting far too much from Minnesota residents while they continue to cope with problems under President Biden’s economy: inflation, higher gasoline and energy costs, and empty store shelves.
With this record surplus, its clear government is taking too much money and that Minnesotans deserve permanent tax relief. Personally, I will once again be pushing my legislation that would permanently end the tax on Social Security for our senior citizens. We also need to end the unnecessary unemployment tax (UI) tax hike on Minnesota businesses. Expect several other tax relief proposals to be discussed as well.
With murders, violent crime and carjackings being reported on the news every night, public safety is also a top issue for Minnesotans. I have taken an interest in the challenges law enforcement face, as I’ve conducted ride-alongs not only with the Cottage Grove and Hastings Police Departments and Dakota and Washington County Sheriff’s Offices, but with deputies from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and officers with the St. Paul Police Department as well.
I can tell you these departments need more well-trained officers and resources to effectively do their jobs. Despite rapidly rising crime rates throughout the Metro Area, last session Governor Walz and legislative Democrats put more emphasis on police accountability above all else, with several endorsing the ‘defund the police’ movement in Minneapolis. This isn’t helpful.
Not only do we need to recruit and train more officers, we also need judges and prosecutors to enforce the laws on the books. Far too often we are hearing of repeat offenders who received a lenient or shortened sentence who are back on the streets terrorizing, harming, or killing innocent citizens. Violent offenders should never be given a free pass, and if the legislature needs to strengthen current laws to ensure these criminals stay behind bars, then that’s what we’ll fight for.
Finally, the second year of the legislative biennium is known as the ‘bonding year’ where the Minnesota House and Senate reach agreement on a capital investment plan that will help fund construction projects across Minnesota. The state typically borrows money at low interest rates in order to make the work happen.
With a nearly $8 billion surplus, we should be looking to use some of this amount on needed projects – think road and bridge improvements. Why borrow billions of dollars and increase the state’s debt when you have ready cash available? While tax relief is Priority 1 this session, using some cash for capital investment projects, and borrowing less, does make long-term sense for Minnesota.
While I’m sure you will hear plenty about these three topics in the coming months, there may be other legislative topics that interest you as well. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach me at 651-296-3135 or by email at [email protected]
State Representative Tony Jurgens (R-Cottage Grove) represents Minnesota House District 54B, which includes the cities of Hastings, Cottage Grove, and Afton, as well as Denmark and Nininger Townships.