My first term representing Crow Wing and Aitkin Counties has ended and we have made significant progress over the last two years.

We entered the 2013 Session facing a $627 million deficit — our eighth in the last ten years —a direct result of fiscal mismanagement and a reliance on shifts and gimmicks. Instead of continuing with the status quo, we changed course and focused on middle-class priorities like education, job creation, and property tax relief.

The legislature made historic investments in education to build the world’s best workforce — including all-day kindergarten, early childhood scholarships, pay back of the IOU owed to schools and a college tuition freeze. The budget also included legislation I authored to close funding equity gaps for low-revenue schools — most of which are rural schools.

This is a huge step toward ensuring that students in Crow Wing or Aitkin County have the same educational opportunities as a child in Edina or Eagan. That is key to the economic vitality of our area now and in the future.

Our budget also includes $178 million in direct property tax relief through the expanded Homeowner Credit Refund and Renter’s Credit. In addition, the plan includes makes $100 million in new investments to spur middle class job creation, calling for more job training, workforce development and small business strategies to strengthen our economy and workforce. The budget contains a bill I authored to provide a $346 million tax cut for businesses — the largest in state history — through a reduction in the rate that employers pay on unemployment insurance.

I am proud of the accomplishments and positive, bipartisan working relationships made in my first term — more than 90 percent of legislation signed into law had bipartisan support! I hope to continue that work for the people of Crow Wing and Aitkin Counties.

We’re heading in the right direction, but we know there is more work to be done. To continue building on our progress we need to continue work to grow our economy for working families and the middle class. Going back to the gridlock of the past won’t help our families, students, seniors, or our communities.

My mother told me you can either be part of the solution or part of the problem, and I hope to be part of the solution again for the people of District 10B. Thank you for the honor of serving you in the Minnesota House of Representatives.