House passes budget bill with a focus on building a "Greater Minnesota"
Priorities build on Minnesota’s economic progress with focus on middle class tax cuts and critical investments in education, job creation, and care for seniors
Saint Paul, Minnesota – Just days after passing tax cuts for more than one million Minnesotans, the House passed their supplemental budget bill late Thursday night.
Minnesota’s growing economy and balanced budget passed in 2013 created a $1.2 billion budget surplus. The legislature has moved quickly to utilize about half of that surplus already, approving $443 million in tax cuts and directing $150 million to bolster the state’s budget reserve.
“Minnesota’s economy is progressing overall,” said Rep. John Persell (DFL – Bemidji). “But we know we have a long way to go before everyone recovers from the recent recession. This session is about continuing to bring that recovery to all corners of the state.”
The House is building on that progress with a supplemental budget that puts middle class families, students and seniors ahead of wealthy special interests. Highlights of the supplemental budget include:
ü Statewide investments to strengthen Greater Minnesota through broadband investments and economic development resources.
ü Education investments that build on the 2013 “education session.”
ü Funding for home and community based health care workers who provide care for the elderly and disabled.
ü Critical transportation funding to repair potholes and make investments in highways, roads and bridges.
“One of the key pieces of this budget is the pay increase for long term care workers,” said Rep. Roger Erickson (DFL – Baudette). “Last session, nursing home workers saw their first pay increase in years. This session, we wanted to be able to offer a similar increase for long term care workers. These are the people who take care of our loved ones when they need it most. They deserve to get an even bigger increase than we’re giving, but this is a very good next step.”
House DFL Supplemental Budget
Job Creation: Bonding and Jobs and Economic Development - $170
• Provide debt-service for $850 million in GO bonds for a bonding bill that improves infrastructure and creates jobs throughout the state and boost bonding bill with $125 million for additional critical statewide investments.
• Build a Greater Minnesota through targeted investments that address economic challenges confronting Greater Minnesota:
o Invest $25 million in broadband access in Greater Minnesota.
o Provide $10 million in economic development resources to support
rural job growth and the business sectors critical to rural economies.
Seniors & Caregivers - $91 million
• Provide an additional 5 percent increase for home and community-based health care workers who provide care for the elderly and disabled.
• Increase funding for rural nursing homes and provide additional investments in senior nutrition.
Education - $92 million
• Provide a funding increase for K-12 schools to help address the costs of teacher evaluations and to further improve education outcomes.
• Provide more Minnesota children with access to affordable, high-quality early learning opportunities.
• Fully fund reduced price for school lunches to ensure no Minnesota child is turned away in the lunch line (passed off House floor).
• Invest in our higher education institutions to improve students’ access to an affordable college education.
Transportation - $50 million
• Provide $15 million to help local governments throughout the state address the need to repair potholes after the worst winter in recent memory.
• Build on progress last session with further investment in “Corridors of Commerce” funding for statewide highway repairs.
Both representatives are glad to see support for Greater Minnesota in the bill.
“Expanded access to broadband internet will be very beneficial for businesses and families in our area,” said Erickson. “And the increased funding for schools and roads will also help Greater Minnesota.”
“This bill is going to help address some issues for folks up north,” said Persell. “Hopefully, we can continue this progress as we take up the second tax bill. That will provide some tax cuts for families, businesses, and farmers in our area as well.”
Today, the House will take action on a second tax bill, another key component of the House budget plan. “Tax Bill 2” will include $103 million in additional tax cuts for homeowners, renters, farmers and small businesses:
• Farmers: Provides $18 million in property tax relief to more than 90,000 homesteaded farms. An average family farmer in Minnesota will see $460 in property tax relief.
• Homeowners: Provides $12 million for a one-time increase for all Homestead Credit Refunds paid in 2014. Each homeowner receiving a refund will see a 3% increase, providing further property tax relief to 500,000 Minnesota homeowners.
• Renters: Provides $12.5 million for a one-time increase for all Renters’ Credit Refunds paid in 2014. Each renter receiving a refund will see a 6% increase, providing property tax relief to 350,000 Minnesota renters.
• Businesses: Provides a property tax cut for small businesses with property value less than $1.1 million. The bill also includes sales tax reforms that provide additional sales tax relief to small businesses.