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Despite differences, good work is being done

To the Editor:
In serving as your state senator, I have learned that most Minnesotans do not particularly care for partisan politics, the nuances of legislative processes, or who takes credit. Despite all the negative attention being paid to national politics, I believe good work reflective of our state’s values is being done in St. Paul.
On Monday evening, Gov. Mark Dayton called a joint session of the state House and Senate for the purpose of giving his annual State of the State address. Sitting governors use this address as an opportunity to talk about Minnesota’s well-being, as well as to outline their legislative agenda and policy initiatives. Despite significant disagreements with Gov. Dayton’s policy agenda, I am eager to work with him on the issues that are most pressing to Minnesotans, such as reforming the health insurance market, providing significant tax relief, and ensuring people have access to safe, reliable means of transportation. As chair of the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee, I am committed to listening to all ideas and working with Gov. Dayton to craft a transportation budget bill that invests money where it is needed: roads, bridges, and infrastructure in Greater Minnesota. I agree with Gov. Dayton that we need a significant investment in transportation. We simply disagree on how we should pay for it; Gov. Dayton favors a gas tax increase, and I do not. Rather, I believe we should use existing revenue to cover the costs of this investment. In the weeks ahead, we will be offering more specific details of our proposal, so check back often.
I am pleased to report that the Senate has passed the final version of the Republican-led Health Care Emergency Aid and Access Act in a bipartisan vote. The language is slightly different than when I last wrote; this is a result of a conference committee working out differences between the House and the Senate versions. I expect the bill to be voted on by the House and sent to Gov. Dayton for his signature very soon. This is good news for Minnesotans who purchase their health insurance on the individual market and have been saddled with huge premium increases. This package offers a 25 percent premium reduction to customers on the individual market who do not receive a federal subsidy and who are not enrolled in Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare. The bill also encompasses most of the reform initiatives from the initial bill, which is a great primer for more significant, long-term reform I hope will come later this session.
Finally, my wife and I would like to offer our sincere best wishes to Gov. Dayton and his family during a particularly difficult time, having announced earlier this week that he will undergo treatment for prostate cancer. We may disagree politically, but there is no question that Gov. Dayton has been a faithful public servant to our state for many years and I hope you will join me in praying for effective treatment and a swift recovery.
State Sen. Scott Newman