Thumbs up to the DFL’s achievements in the 2013 Legislature. After far too many years of Republicans’ “no new taxes” and penny wise/pound foolish policies, the DFL has raised the taxes necessary to fund the state’s needs and commitments.
Instead of borrowing much-needed education dollars, the state can now adequately fund E-12 education. State college and university students will have more financial aid and a two-year tuition freeze.
At last the DFL established a progressive income tax, making those with the highest incomes subject to the highest rates. By raising state revenue, it should be possible to lower property taxes.
Another overdue reform eliminated the state sales tax on publicly funded entities — city and county governments, state universities, and others. Making tax-funded entities subject to the sales tax never made sense.
DFLers showed the courage of their convictions by passing the marriage equality bill, legalizing same sex marriages and ending a blatant denial of equal rights to a minority. Now same-sex couples can enjoy “all the rights and privileges thereto appertaining” to marriage.
There is still much unfinished business. The state minimum wage, which affects 4.5 percent of Minnesota workers, needs to be raised. Minnesota is one of only four states with a minimum wage lower than the federal minimum wage. We need a public works bill which addresses the desperate need to upgrade our roads and bridges. The school bullying issue should be resolved, and the state’s mental health system needs reform.
Next year the governor and the legislature will have both challenges and opportunities to build on this year’s accomplishments.