Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)


Minnesota is doing pretty good. We began our legislative session last year with a $600 million budget deficit and $800 million still owed to our schools. This session, we are working with a projected budget surplus of $1.23 billion and we’ve paid back every dollar owed to our schools. For 6 straight months, Minnesota has added jobs. As the entire country continues to recover from the Great Recession, Minnesota just seems to be recovering even faster.

But not all parts of the state are seeing the same level of recovery. That’s why the House unveiled a package of bills focused on our Greater Minnesota communities. These bills are designed to help spur our local economies by investing in the hardworking families, farmers, and businesses in our communities.

Homeowners across the state will see property taxes decline this year for the first time in decades. But for farmers, whose land value has increased 24 percent in the last year, taxes are not going down. Our bills would provide $15 million in immediate property tax relief for family farms to help offset some of those increases. They would also provide more than $12 million each for homeowners and renters to help provide direct property tax relief for an additional 850,000 Minnesotans.

To help support our local businesses, our bills would expand funding for a revolving loan fund for small businesses, help manufacturers looking for expertise and services, and boost funding for the Jobs Skills Partnership that helps match prospective workers to open jobs. The $10 million spent on these programs would help small and medium size businesses in our area establish or expand their operations.

We also plan to invest in a more robust mapping of broadband internet access across Minnesota. Over the next several years we hope to expand access to high speed internet across the state, and our area would benefit greatly. Businesses are relying on high speed internet more and more, and if we don’t make these needed investments, Greater Minnesota will continue to lag behind the rest of the state. Mapping the location and quality of our broadband services will help us make informed decisions about where expanded services are needed most.

In an effort to combine two problems into one solution, we are proposing a $1.5 million ‘Farmers to Food Shelves’ program that would encourage producers and growers to donate surplus crops to their local food shelves. Under this program, farmers would donate any surplus food they have from their harvest to Second Harvest, which would then distribute that food to local food shelves for local families in need. Farmers would be reimbursed for the cost of harvesting and packaging. This program is perfect for rural communities in our area.

Things continue to move quickly in the House, and we’ll provide updates as these Greater Minnesota bills move forward. Our hope is to see each of these bills signed into law this spring.

John Persell

State Representative, District 5A

Roger Erickson

State Representative, District 2A


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