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Budget proposal includes new state agency focused on kids, families

At the heart of the record $62 billion One Minnesota Budget proposal released by Gov. Tim Walz this week is a pledge to make the state the best in the nation for kids to live and grow.

The House Children and Families Finance and Policy Committee learned more about that plan during an informational hearing Thursday focused on some proposals members will be asked to consider this session.

Minnesota Management and Budget Assistant Commissioner Erin Bailey provided an overview of the $12 billion over four years in proposed funding for children, families and education. It includes:

  • $6.9 billion for education and education workforce programs;
  • $3.4 billion for early childhood; and
  • $2.3 billion for a child tax credit.

“A hallmark of this budget is a nation-leading tax credit for children and families that would reduce child poverty in the state by 25%,” said Bailey, who also serves as executive director of the Children’s Cabinet, a group of state agency leaders who work together on government efforts to improve child and youth outcomes.

The credit would be $1,000 per child up to $3,000. Unlike a similar federal tax credit, it would not require the taxpayer to have a minimum income.

[MORE: Read the governor’s budget recommendations]

The governor’s proposal would also create a Department of Children, Youth, and Families that would oversee:

  • child care and early learning programs;
  • child support, safety and permanency, and family focused community programs;
  • economic support and food assistance programs; and
  • youth opportunity and older youth investments.

“With greater coordination and efficiencies, we can better serve children and families,” Bailey said. If approval is given, establishing the new agency would be a two-year process.

Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul), the committee chair, said many of the budget bills that will be needed to turn the governor’s proposals into laws are going to take some time to put together and that members would get into the details at a later date.

“There’s so much more to do,” Pinto said. “And I’m going to be pushing just as hard as I can to make sure that every single child gets off to the great start that they deserve. This is a great start for that great start.”

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