We have gaveled and the 2012 legislative session is in the history books. The past few months have been filled with trials and tribulations, but I am confident in the decisions I have made and am proud of the progress accomplished on several issues to improve our state and district. Throughout this session, I have held true to my principles.
We were able to balance a more than $6 billion budget deficit and create a $1.2 billion surplus; without raising taxes. We enacted important school reforms that will ensure Minnesota’s education system remains among the best in the nation. We made real progress in streamlining the business permitting process, cutting through the red tape that hinders small business growth while maintaining important environmental protections. We also moved to protect the integrity of our electoral process by allowing Minnesotans to decide whether Voter ID is necessary.
In my role as Senate Transportation Chair, I have had the opportunity to meet with officials across Minnesota to discuss how transportation impacts their communities. This process is important as we move forward to make 21st century improvements to our infrastructure. I have been mindful to balance the needs of Greater Minnesota with those of the Twin Cities Metro Area. I am thankful to have worked with my colleagues across the aisle and the Governor in making necessary transportation improvements this session.
We saw many good pieces of legislation pass through the committee during the 2012 legislative session. Among the major accomplishments signed into law was an omnibus policy bill and a supplemental trunk highway appropriation bill. Key provisions included in these bills were the creation of a Safe Routes to School program, providing vehicle tax exemptions for community-based services and mobile medical units, as well funding for the refurbishing of the Willmar district DOT headquarters.
The Work Continues
I recently attended the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee (TFAC) meeting in St. Paul. This group was established to examine transportation funding and finance in the State of Minnesota. The committee is composed of 19 members including legislators, members of the business and investment communities, representatives from city and county governments, as well as a union representative.
I am very aware of the financial situation the State of Minnesota finds itself in when it comes to funding our transportation system. By holding these meetings, members of TFAC will make recommendations to address the future funding of the state’s highways, roads, bridges and public transport systems as well as air, rail and port facilities.
I am proud to serve on this committee and will continue to keep you updated on the progress we make on this important issue. A report of recommendations will be submitted to my legislative colleagues, as well as the Governor, later in December.
Memorial Day will be observed this Monday. This is a day in which we honor our brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. Ideally, this is a task that should be performed on a daily basis around the country. Please take a moment on Monday to reflect on our fallen heroes who gave everything for our freedom. May God rest their souls and continue to bless America.
As I prepare for the road that lay ahead, I want to thank you for allowing me the privilege of representing you in St. Paul. The faith you have stored in me as your public servant is overwhelming. Please feel free to contact me anytime.
Senator Joe Gimse