After Tim Kelly and Republicans took control of the Legislature in 2011, one of their top priorities was turning Minneosta's economy around. Facing a $5.1 billion deficit, Tim and his caucus went to work, enacting policies that eliminated the massive shortfall and created a nearly $1.2 billion surplus in just a few short months. Tim understands that you can't spend more than you bring in, and after slashing projected state spending to its lowest rate in recent memory, Minnesota is finally on the road to economic recovery.
Reducing Government Spending
Two years ago, Minnesota voters sent a message to incoming state lawmakers and told them to get state government overspending under control and force it to live within its means. Tim and other members of the new legislative majority heard that message clearly and addressed the issue by passing a series of long overdue government reforms. Some of the results included reducing future state spending by $5 billion, forcing government to spend only what it takes in, and cubring out-of-control health and human services projected spending growth from 22% to 4.8%.
Tim understands jobs have to be Minnesota's top priority. Not only does this include policies that put more people to work, but it also includes provisions that encourage private sector businesses to expand and relocate in our state. Tim fought hard for these measures during the 2011 and 2012 sessions, and after a number of new job creation bills were signed into law, Minnesota began to see positive job growth. Since January, 2011, Minnesota's unemployment rate has fallen from 7.5% to 5.7%, and our state has more than 52,000 people working today than when voters elected a Republican legislature in 2010.
Common sense tells Tim that if more Minnesotans are working, they will be paying more income taxes and buying more goods - which would increase sales tax collections at the state level. Last session, Governor Dayton proposed a $2 billion tax hike that would have impacted Minnesotans of ALL income levels. Tim blocked this fiscally irresonsible proposal because he understands that if government lives within its means, and enacts policies that put more people to work, there is no need to force Minnesotans to pay more to government when they're already struggling to make ends meet.
As a former school board member and current Vice Chair of the Minnesota House Education Finance Committee, investing in our children is one of Tim's top priorities. This session, Tim was instrumental in helping narrow the funding disparity gap that exists between rural and inner city schools, as well as ensuring that all schools received needed funding increases. Tim also supported a number of bipartisan K-12 Education reform laws, including teacher and principal evaluation requirements, removing mandates forcing school districts to spend state money on programs outside of the classroom, and providing early education scholarships to our best and brightest students.
Tim's bigges TTim's biggest disappointment this session was Governor Dayton's failure to allow the Legislature to pay back the school shift funding extension. With the budget surplus, the money was there to eliminate the entire shift enacted last session, as well as a portion of the shift enacted by previous legislative leadership, but the Governor chose to make this a political issue and vetoed the proposal.