Loon eager to improve Minnesota’s business climate Part 1

Reprinted from Eden Prairie News, October 14, 2010
by Jenifer Loon

It has been an honor and a privilege representing the citizens of Eden Prairie at the State Capitol for the past two years.  I strive to be an attentive listener to constituents’ views, an effective voice for their concerns and a tireless worker seeking results that make a difference.   In asking for your vote on November 2nd, I pledge to continue the work I’ve begun in the legislature to make government more effective—not more expensive. My priorities have been, and will continue to be, enacting policies that will improve our short and long-term employment outlook and strengthen our economy.  This includes redesigning government to deliver high quality services in an affordable, sustainable manner, student-centered education reforms to ensure high achievement for all of Minnesota’s children, and improving our business climate to encourage job creation.

I am very pleased to report success on some of the initiatives I championed during my first term which will make a difference in our community. On the property tax front, a redistribution program developed in 1972 which diverts millions of dollars in taxes from Eden Prairie to other metro-area cities will finally be given a critical review.  The bill I authored to study the fiscal disparities program was signed into law this year.  This antiquated program raises residential property taxes on Eden Prairie home owners (and those of other “donor” cities) and is long overdue for study and reform.  I was honored to be named “Legislator of the Year” by the Municipal Legislative Commission for my work on this important tax fairness issue.

A major traffic headache and safety concern for local drivers will soon be relieved as ground will be broken to rebuild the I-494/Hwy 169 Interchange next spring.  I was proud to help gain approval for a money-saving MnDOT design for the rebuild and move this important project up the list of transportation priorities to address the needs and concerns of Eden Prairie residents.

In the health care arena, I have authored several bills to help individuals and small businesses obtain access to more affordable health insurance options in the Minnesota marketplace.  An amendment I offered received strong bipartisan support and was signed into law to expand eligibility for flexible benefit plans to small businesses with up to 100 employees.

Despite these steps forward, there is much work to be done.  While we have seen some improvement in our economy, many families and small businesses are continuing to struggle with lost wages and reduced earnings.  Government must recognize and reflect the practical choices taxpayers are making with their own budgets.  Priority programs need creative reforms that stretch taxpayer dollars, maximizing value and results.

The biggest task of the new legislature will be creating a budget.  I believe a fiscally responsible approach to this work is aligning spending to anticipated revenues—not raising taxes. Current projections indicate State revenues will increase from the previous budget by 7 to 8 percent.  A deficit occurs only if spending exceeds these receipts.  Government spending supports many important things—the education of our children, transportation and infrastructure, investment in research, health care and services for the poor, elderly and disabled.  However, raising taxes and taking more money from the private sector will squelch job creation—the key to our long-term economic recovery.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve our community. By listening to you and working in a principled, effective and bipartisan fashion, I’ve sought to create real solutions to move our State forward.   I humbly ask for your support and vote on November 2, 2010 to continue working on your behalf in the Minnesota House.