Here is an update from your Capitol.
Education/Higher Education Bill Passes House
On Thursday, the House passed a bipartisan education/higher education bill package that puts our kids first. Perhaps most notably, it includes House Republicans’ school safety initiative which funds school security improvements and addresses student mental health. Additionally, the bill improves transparency in school finance and performance reporting and advances a number of innovative solutions for education and higher education in our state.
First, the school safety and student mental health portion of the bill gives our districts critical resources and flexibility to address student safety and security. The legislation includes a number of measures like expanding the use of long-term facilities maintenance revenue for facility security upgrades, strengthening the state’s commitment to school-linked mental health grants, increasing funding for Safe Schools Revenue and supporting suicide prevention training for teachers. In all, our plan allows for everything from hiring more school counselors or school resource officers to making critical building security upgrades.
Furthermore, this legislation also includes a number of other key provisions for our students and schools. It strengthens and clarifies state statute to address teacher misconduct and licensure, protects kids from school lunch shaming, and creates a School Report Card —a one-stop-spot for summative and easily accessible school and district ratings that will provide families with a place to research, compare and help determine which school will work best for their child.
For higher education, the bill includes student loan debt counseling, investments for cybersecurity programming, and backs a new textbook affordability initiative. Overall, $4 million in supplemental funding is appropriated to state colleges and universities, along with $1 million to Metro State for cybersecurity programming, and $500,000 to each the University of Minnesota and the Office of Higher Education.
Building off last year’s significant education investments, meaningful reforms and work to address college affordability, this supplemental bill will greatly benefit Minnesota students and schools.
Last week, I briefly discussed the importance of addressing federal tax conformity this session. While Governor Dayton’s budget includes a $1.4 billion tax increase on hardworking Minnesotans, House Republicans in contrast, are advancing a plan that works to simplify our tax code and ensure folks can take full advantage of state and federal tax relief.
Our plan, released on Saturday, includes the first income rate reduction in nearly two decades, and in all, more than 2.1 million Minnesota filers would benefit from a tax cut next year if our plan is signed into law.
Getting tax conformity done this session is a priority so that tax filers can avoid unnecessary complications, headaches and hassles when they file their taxes next spring. I think the package in the House is a commonsense approach that holds as many people as possible harmless and will help middle-class Minnesotans keep more of their hard earned money.
It’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol. Have a wonderful weekend!