From the CapitolLegislative survey produces interesting results
By: Kurt Bills, Rosemount Town Pages
Thank you to all the people who participated in the survey I recently conducted online. The results are interesting, especially on the question about how we should appropriate surplus funds.
Minnesota had a projected $876 million state budget surplus when I launched the survey in early February. I asked how we should use future surplus funds, should they ensue. The most common top priority is to repay shifted K-12 funds (43 percent). The surplus has grown to $1.2 billion since then and the legislature recently passed a bill to fully repay last year’s shift and begin paying down the K-12 shift we inherited. Unfortunately, Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed our proposal.
The top No. 2 priority for how to use surplus funds (47 percent) is to put the money in savings to help insulate our state against future downturns and unstable national and global economies. Reducing taxes (28 percent) receives the most votes as the No. 3 priority and an overwhelming majority (75 percent) says increasing government spending is the No. 4 — lowest — priority.
Another question asked what the best way is to begin paying down the K-12 funding debt. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) favor reducing spending in order to grow the surplus. The budget we passed in 2011 is now down to a projected $33.8 billion this biennium, far below the unsustainable $39 billion spending plan we inherited from the previous majority.
I also asked in the survey where our greatest need for tax reform lies and the clear majority (60 percent) says income taxes. In a related question, 59 percent indicate Minnesota should not seek new areas to tax.
The legislature passed a bill this session which will allow Minnesota voters to decide this fall whether photo ID should be required at the polls. An overwhelming number of survey respondents (74 percent) support this requirement; this is the most one-sided response to any question on my survey.
Another constitutional amendment proposal regarding forced unionization is being considered at the capitol. I asked the question: Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to guarantee all citizens the individual freedom to decide to join or not join a labor union, and to pay or not pay dues to a labor union? More than two-thirds (68 percent) indicate citizens should be guaranteed these rights.
On transportation, a strong majority (64 percent) prefers we focus on fixing existing roads, highways and bridges instead of expanding public transit or building new roads.
Most respondents (64 percent) also say Minnesota should reject the Obamacare plan and pass private-sector reforms that offer Minnesotans more personal freedom and flexibility in healthcare coverage.
A proposal to construct a new Minnesota Vikings stadium has made many headlines this session and has given good water-cooler fodder. But most who participated in my survey (61 percent) indicate the legislature should not participate in discussions pertaining to this issue.
Thanks again to all those who participated in my survey. The results are intriguing and will help me as we face important decisions the remainder of the 2012 session. If you were unable to participate in the survey, I still welcome your input on these issues by emailing email@example.com.