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Rep. Roger Erickson: Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

February 13, 2014 - In a couple weeks, the Legislature will return to the Capitol to begin a new legislative session. Since our budget was passed into law last summer, Minnesota has continued to do well. After significant investments in education and job creation, Minnesota’s economy has been steadily improving to the point that a $1 billion budget surplus was forecasted in November. Since then, state revenue has been even higher.

Still, there is more work that needs to be done this session. At least some of the budget surplus needs to be used to bolster our budget reserves so that future economic challenges don’t require such drastic cuts or revenue increases. And the exact size of the surplus won’t be known until we get our next budget forecast at the end of this month. That forecast will give us a much better sense of just how kind of additional resources we have to work with. But even if the surplus remains roughly the same size, we’re still in a good place to address two taxes during the upcoming session, the farm equipment repair tax and the warehousing tax. The repeal of these taxes would help local ag producers and businesses in our area and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to repeal them this year.

To keep our economy moving forward, we’ll also be proposing a bonding bill to fund local infrastructure projects across the state. In our area, that could mean improvements at colleges like BSU and schools like Red Lake. These projects help put people back to work by creating construction jobs in local communities, but they also make much needed repairs to assets that communities really depend on. Last year, we had a similar bill proposed on the House floor, but it failed to get the bipartisan support needed to pass it. I’ll continue to work with my fellow members across the aisle to make sure we can put politics aside and get our bill passed this year.

One other significant priority for the House this year will be increasing the state’s minimum wage. Minnesota is one of only four states in the entire country to have a minimum wage that’s lower than the federal rate. Our minimum wage is currently $6.15 an hour, while the federal rate is $7.25. The problem will paying people this kind of wage is that they are left to make ends meet by using state support programs like food stamps and subsidized housing. The cost of those programs is then passed on to every tax payer in Minnesota. If we increased the wages for these workers, it would increase the buying power of hundreds of thousands of workers and decrease the cost of those public programs. This kind of increase would also likely need to come hand in hand with increases for personal care attendants and similar workers, which would mean a substantial investment at the state level. It should be possible, but it will take a lot of careful review this session to make sure we do it in the right way.

If you have any questions or ideas about what we’ll be doing this session, please don’t hesitate to contact me by phone (651-296-4265) or email ( I look forward to talking with you.

Representative Roger Erickson


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