Senator Joe Gimse visits Montevideo’s Friendship Homes plant for meeting and tour

Sen. Joe Gimse and Friendship Homes plant manager Mark McMahan discuss facility operations during a visit on November 1st

Last week, I met with officials from Friendship Homes and toured their facility in Montevideo.  Friendship Homes specializes in the manufacturing of systems-built and pre-fabricated houses that are sold throughout North America.  In addition to the Montevideo plant, Friendship Homes operates seven other plants throughout the state.  In speaking with the plant manager and production team, I learned that they are planning an expansion before the end of the year.  The additional jobs Friendship Homes creates will mean a great deal to West Central Minnesota.  I would like to thank everyone from Friendship Homes for the opportunity to tour their facility and I look forward to working with them in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation Finance Advisory Committee update

On Monday, October 15th I attended the latest Transportation Finance Advisory Committee (TFAC) meeting.  As a member of this important group, we have been tasked with exploring alternative and innovative methods to fund Minnesota’s transportation system in the future. 
 
At the meeting we heard public comments from a host of transportation related stakeholder groups.  These groups represented both public and private interests, as well as rural and metro constituencies.  As we did at our last meeting, the goal of hearing from these groups was to get a full picture of what their transportation needs are and what funding options we have at our disposal over the course of the next twenty years and beyond.
 
The continued discussion on the development of ideas for funding and financing recommendations was another topic that we covered at the meeting.  There are a multitude of sources and revenue options that have been discussed by the group over the course of our meetings.  At this meeting we started to identify the top ideas that were the most feasible for future consideration by the legislature and administration.  Included in the list of ideas was my proposal to establish joint power collaborative corridors that would allow units of government to decide how best to spend their local dollars on transportation projects.  In addition, other ideas that made the list were public-private partnerships and the use of performance management systems that have a focus towards high returns on transportation investments.
 
The group also heard feedback from the Department of Transportation on how the general public views transportation in Minnesota.  We heard there is a strong demand for safe transportation and reduced congestion throughout the entire state.  To meet these demands, we need to make wise investments in our transportation system that will also have a positive statewide economic impact and increase Minnesotans’ quality of life.  It is critical that our current and future funding decisions are based on a cost/benefit analysis.  Economic development, prosperity, competitiveness and job growth are dependant in part on a quality road and bridge system.  I look forward to working with my fellow TFAC members to shape the groups final recommendations which are to be advanced in December.
 
For further information on TFAC, please see the following link on the Department of Transportation’s website…
 
 

Senator Joe Gimse: Guardian of Small Business

I am very honored to receive this prestigious award. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
National Federation of Independent Business • 380 Jackson St., Suite 780 • St. Paul, MN 55101 651-293-1283
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Mike Hickey 651-235-7401
State Senator Joe Gimse Earns Guardian of Small Business Award
ST. PAUL, Minn., Oct. 11, 2012– The state’s largest small business association, the National Federation of Independent Business, today announced that State Senator Joe Gimse of Willmar was awarded the prestigious Guardian of Small Business Award.
The National Federation of Independent Business has more than 12,000 members in Minnesota, making it the largest business group in terms of entities. To win a Guardian of Small Business Award, legislators had to demonstrate a pro-small-business voting record during the 87th session of the Minnesota legislature. Lawmakers were scored based on 10 votes taken in the state House of Representatives and Senate.
“He made many votes in support of small business during the recent 2011-12 legislative session, including voting for critical tax reductions and reforms to make Minnesota more competitive and also supported major tort reforms to reduce lawsuit abuse. State Senator Gimse is a real friend of small business, and we are happy to announce that he has earned the NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award,” said Mike Hickey, NFIB State Director.
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NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small and independent business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends their views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their business. More information about NFIB is available online at www.NFIB.com/newsroom.

Minnesota’s Economy Continues to Flourish in 2012

 

The Office of Minnesota Management & Budget released their October 2012 Economic Update this week and the news could not be more optimistic for our state’s economy. Throughout the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2013, revenues came in $145 million above projections from what was forecasted in February. That equals a 4% increase in what the economic experts in St. Paul were predicting. This amount is in addition to $299 million in additional revenues that were predicted for Fiscal Year 2012 . When you add it all up, revenues for the current two-year biennium are currently $444 million above forecast.

This positive news only reinforces what I stated in July when the last economic update was released. Back then I reported that such additional revenues prove that the budgetary decisions made by me and my colleagues in the legislative have had a positive impact on Minnesota’s economy. Factors leading to the excess revenues include increases in the collection of income taxes, sales taxes and corporate income taxes. In addition, consumer confidence has risen markedly in Minnesota due to strong home sales, increased automobile sales and additional homeowners re-financing their mortgages.

When you add it all up, I believe it is a matter of simple economics that I have been promoting since the day I took the oath of office in the Minnesota Senate. By holding the line on tax increases and being a sound fiscal steward of how state taxpayer dollars are spent, Minnesotans are continuing to realize the benefits of having more money in their pocketbooks at the end of the day. If we continue to shepherd these ideas through the legislative process during the upcoming 2013 session, I firmly believe the economies of West Central Minnesota and the rest of the state will continue to flourish.

Senator Joe Gimse visits Case New Holland plant in Benson

Senator Joe Gimse meets with the production team at the Case New Holland plant in Benson, Minnesota on September 26, 2012

Last week, I met with officials from Case New Holland (CNH) and took a tour of their manufacturing facility in Benson, Minnesota. It was a great honor to meet with the CNH team to learn more about their Minnesota operations and what their plant means to the economy of our state. CNH employs almost 500 people in Benson and produces an array of agricultural equipment that includes implements such as sprayers, floaters and cotton pickers. In speaking with the plant manager and production team, I learned that CHN expanded the plant in 2009 by opening two new product lines and then followed in 2011 with an expansion in their engineering, manufacturing and paint system facilities. These expansions resulted in over 100 new jobs and showed CNH is committed to maintaining a strong presence in West Central Minnesota. We also discussed how CNH partnered with Minnesota West Community and Technical College (MWCTC) to customize a training program for CNH employees. The curriculum includes manufacturing automation and has enabled CNH to continue to leverage their product innovations with the talented and skilled labor workforce in the region. I would like to thank everyone from CNH for the opportunity to tour their facility and I look forward to working with them in the future.

Capitol Update

On Monday, September 24th, I attended the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee (TFAC) in St. Paul. As I had explained in earlier columns, TFAC is a group of individuals who are exploring innovative funding solutions for the future of Minnesota’s transportation system. At the meeting we heard public comments from a host of transportation related groups. Included were the Minnesota Transportation Alliance, the Minnesota Trucking Association, the Suburban Transit Association, the Minnesota Public Transit Association, Transit for Livable Communities and Fresh Energy. These groups and their members represent a broad spectrum of interests ranging from the movement of goods and services to the movement of people – throughout Greater Minnesota and the metropolitan areas of Minnesota.

Other topics discussed at the meeting included the projected transportation funding gap, current funding mechanisms and projected revenues over the course of the next twenty years. Modes of transportation that the group reviewed in discussing these important pieces to the funding puzzle included roads, bridges, railroads, ports, aeronautics and public transit.

The group was then tasked with developing ideas and recommendations on how we as a state can close the funding gap in this day and age of limited financial resources in the transportation sector. Included in the recommendations was a corridor collaborative proposal that I presented to the group, as well as to members of the public in Willmar earlier this month. In addition to presenting my proposal to the TFAC group an in Willmar, I have also discussed it with various transportation groups throughout the state. My proposal has been gaining momentum due to the support from these groups based on the notion that public and private interests can work together to find alternative funding solutions on the local level. Those solutions include a menu of funding options that include public-private partnerships, capture increases in property value and bonding authority.

I look forward to working with the members of TFAC, as well as our public and private partners, to find innovative ways to continue the enhancement of our road and bridge infrastructure in the State of Minnesota.

SENATOR JOE GIMSE AND MNDOT COMMISSIONER TO DISCUSS CORRIDOR COLLABORATIVES AT MEETING IN WILLMAR

St. Paul – State Senator Joe Gimse (R – Willmar), Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel will be discussing the future of transportation in Minnesota at a meeting to be held on Friday, September 7th at the Willmar Airport. Among the issues to be discussed include MnDOT’s new approach to collaborative planning and collaboration as it relates to the State Highway Investment Plan (STIP).

“As the Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I know firsthand that these are challenging times as the needs for Minnesota’s aging highway infrastructure is outpacing the available funding levels,” Gimse stated. “Corridor collaboratives are coalitions of public and private interests that work together to find alternative funding solutions to projects located throughout the state.”

One of the innovative approaches to be discussed at the meeting is MnDOT’s newly created Corridor Investment Management Strategy (CIMS) program. This program sets priorities at a corridor level by identifying performance-based investment needs based on preservation, safety, congestion and mobility over a ten year period. As these priorities are identified, MnDOT then works in cooperation with local corridor partners to identify high priority investment opportunities that also take into account quality of life and economic considerations.

“The CIMS program dovetails very well with a transportation proposal I have been crafting for presentation to the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee (TFAC) later this month,” Gimse commented. “My proposal will feature a menu of additional funding options that a joint powers board will have access to if they have the authorization of their local units of government. Options include public-private partnerships, capture increases in property value and bonding authority.”

Successful collaborative corridors that have leveraged the public and private partnership model around the state include the Highway 23 Coalition, the Highway 14 Partnership, the Highway 52 Corridor Coalition and the I-35W Transportation Alliance.

“In this day and age of limited financial resources in the transportation sector, collaborative corridors can play a big role in leveraging Minnesota’s precious transportation dollars,” Gimse said. “I look forward to working with our public and private partners to find innovative ways to continue the enhancement of our road and bridge infrastructure that will benefit Minnesota’s economy.”

Capitol Update

The 2012 Disaster Relief Work Group convened Thursday; the second time we have met in as many weeks. These meetings have been productive and will serve to better inform my legislative colleagues and me as to the extent of the damage caused by recent storms. It is important for us to have a thorough understanding of the devastation as we proceed to bring about relief to impacted areas throughout Minnesota.

The discussions have been lengthy and constructive in our efforts to repair the significant damage inflicted upon communities around the state. Testimony has been offered by representatives from the Department of Transportation, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Department of Natural Resources.

As the chief author of the Senate version of the flood relief bill and Chair of Senate Transportation Committee, I look forward to working with my House colleagues and the administration in crafting a sound bill that helps those who need it the most. My thoughts and prayers are with the families whose lives have been disrupted due to these disasters and every effort is being made to ensure that relief is on the way from both the state and federal government.

In Transportation related news, I recently made a presentation to the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee (TFAC) on what I see as alternative ways to fund Minnesota’s transportation system in the future. For background purposes, TFAC is an advisory committee comprised of legislators, agency heads, the business and investment community, an economist, a union representative and local government officials. We have been tasked with analyzing and recommending innovative ways to finance transportation projects. In my presentation, I discussed my vision for the future which includes a list of options for local governments to provide additional funds to local projects. These ideas were well received by the group and we will continue to meet in the upcoming months to develop a list of recommendations that will be reported to the Legislature and Governor at the end of the year.

~Senator Joe Gimse

SENATOR JOE GIMSE SELECTED TO BE CHIEF AUTHOR OF FLOOD RELIEF BILL

St. Paul — Today the Senate Majority Leader, David Senjem (R- Rochester) announced that Senator Joe Gimse of Willmar will be the chief author of the flood relief bill that will be the focus of a Special Legislative Session later this summer.

“As the Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and also serving as a member of the Capital Investment Committee, Senator Gimse has the perfect mix of experience and background to author this important piece of legislation,” Senjem stated. “In addition, Kandiyohi County that Senator Gimse represents has received some of the damage from the storms of last month. This brings the right mix together for Senator Gimse being the right person in the right spot.”

It is anticipated that the Legislative and Governor’s working group will meet early next week with a Special Session planned for later in the month of August. At this time, the State is receiving the final damage numbers and facts from the June severe storms and flooding in Minnesota. FEMA has announced approval of a Presidential disaster declaration for public assistance and hazard mitigation for areas affected by those storms and flooding.

Significant damage to public infrastructure resulted from the storms and those costs for replacing roads, bridges and other public infrastructure will be the focus of the legislation considered by the working group and the planned Special Session.

UPDATED CASH FLOW ESTIMATE IS WELCOME NEWS TO SENATOR JOE GIMSE

St. Paul – State Senator Joe Gimse (R – Willmar), Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, was delighted with the figures released yesterday from Minnesota Management and Budget office (MMB), showing positive cash flow estimates to the sum of $324 million.

“I think it is time we declare, unequivocally, that the fiscal policies enacted by my colleagues and me in the legislature have been tremendously successful for Minnesota’s checkbook. What once was a projected $184 million shortfall has turned into a $324 million increase. It is also important to keep in mind that this news comes on the heels of last week’s revelation that the state saw an additional increase of $336 million in collected revenue.”

The updated cash flow estimates are a combination of increases in revenue and lower levels of projected spending. The report also highlights that the state’s line of credit, which was extended last June for any Fiscal Year 2012 cash needs, was never used. The Director of Budget Planning and Operations for MMB stated: “Positive cash flow results create ‘breathing room’ in FY 2013 outlook.” MMB will continue daily monitoring to detect any significant variances in cash flow and will release new projections based upon the November forecast.

“When I take a moment to reflect upon the economic calamity that loomed over our new majority in January, 2011, I am so proud and privileged to have played a role in reversing the status quo and bringing fiscal restraint to St. Paul. The decisions we made were not easy, nor were they made in haste, but have continuously proven as integral components towards putting Minnesota on solid financial ground. I am eager to continue our work moving forward because the healthiness of our state’s finances is in the best interests of all Minnesotans.”