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2013 Legislative Session Begins

A column from Sen. Chuck Wiger.

The 2013 Legislative Session has officially begun. The new year brings new challenges and opportunities to improve the state’s budget outlook and laws. I am looking forward to the upcoming session and working with area residents and others. As the session progresses, I will be authoring a number of bills concerning local matters (i.e. water management, local tax issues and more). Information will be available on those bills as they are introduced this session.

The first issue we face is the state budget. According to the state’s finance division (Minnesota Management and Budget - MMB),the 2014-2015 projected budget deficit is $1.1 billion. In addition, $1.1 billion in school shift repayments remain, and inflation is estimated to cost about $900 million. Together, this leaves Minnesota with about a $3 billion budget problem. For more information on the state’s budget, visit MMB’s website athttp://www.mmb.state.mn.us/.

It is imperative for the Legislature and the Governor to work together to support Minnesota’s economic recovery with a fair, balanced and responsible budget that puts our state on the path to long-term fiscal health. This work will start with an honest conversation with Minnesotans about solving our budget problems in a fair and responsible way so that we can fund our schools, invest in our transportation system, and grow economic opportunity for our state.

One of the most important parts in the legislative process is your involvement. Visit the Senate’s website atwww.senate.leg.state.mn.us to follow bills, watch floor and committee debates, and stay up-to-date on everything happening in the Legislature.

Beyond the budget, I will be heavily involved in improving Minnesota’s early education and k-12 system. As the chair of the E-12 Education Finance Chair, I will have the opportunity to hear every bill aimed at improving our education system and I am excited to see all of the new ideas. My other committee assignments include the Finance, Education Policy and Transportation and Public Safety Division Committees.

As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions about any issue. Please visit my Senate website atsenate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.

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