ST. PAUL, Minn. – The 2019 Legislative Session began Tuesday in Minnesota with a new governor, a new balance of power and a budget surplus.
The state capitol was bustling, and it’s evident local lawmakers are ready to get started.
“It's always exciting, the first day,” Sen. David Senjem, of Rochester, said. “This is perhaps my 18th first day, but the thrill never goes away.”
“It’s kind of like the first day of school,” Rep. Peggy Bennett, of Albert Lea, said. “I was a former teacher, you know, and it's just like that.”
“Well, I'm excited today,” Rep. Jeanne Poppe, of Austin, said. “It's always good to get back into session.”
“The first day is always a day of hope,” Sen. Dan Sparks, of Austin, said. “The whole United States is going to be watching what happens here in Minnesota.”
Minnesota is the only state with a divided legislature. Republicans are in control of the Senate with a two-seat majority, and Democrats have the majority in the house.
Many lawmakers are feeling optimistic with the new leadership and the projected $1.5B surplus.
“I've been here when it's a $6.2B deficit,” Senjem said, “and it's a lot different dynamics, no question about it.”
Sen. Sparks thinks legislators need to be cautious.
“I think right now our economy's in good shape, but I think we want to make sure we put some of that money away in a rainy day fund,” Sparks said. “Make sure we can fund things that really benefit the state of Minnesota.”
“It's not like there's all sorts of money that we can just say 'hey, let's spend new,'” Poppe said. “We have things that have to be taken care of.”
People who came to the capitol on Tuesday want to make it clear they don’t want to pay more.
“With the budget having a surplus, no one better be taking any more of my money because they have enough of it,” Elizabeth Bangert, of Mankato, said. “They have enough of our tax dollars. They don't need any more and they'd have even more if they stopped the fraud.”
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