On Tuesday, Governor Dayton signed the budget into law, officially ending the 2017 Legislative Session. While I know that more can be done to reduce spending and state government’s impact on our lives, there are some great accomplishments to share and build off of in future legislative sessions.
Break Down Of The Budget:
Taxes: The tax bill provides $650 million in tax relief over the next two years (2018-2019) and $790 million in 2020-2021, which is the largest tax cut in almost 2 decades!
· Nearly 284,000 senior citizens will receive tax reductions; 72,000 of those will no longer pay any state income tax on their social security benefits.
· A family of four making $50,000 a year will receive an additional $1,200 toward their child care expenses.
· 65,000 students will receive an average of a $414 reduction in their taxes through a new tax credit for student loan payments.
· Every Minnesota business owner will see relief from an “extra” business tax.
· 240,000 farmers will receive property tax relief to reduce their disproportionate share of school district levy costs.
Transportation: The transportation budget prioritizes Minnesota’s need of transportation infrastructure improvements through a plan that puts more money into fixing our roads without asking Minnesotans to reach deeper into their pockets. In the next two years alone, an additional $300 million of existing general fund resources from auto-related taxes will be invested in the state’s transportation infrastructure with an additional $16 million for small cities’ road projects; this will be the largest investment in roads and bridges in state history without raising taxes. Additionally, through the creation of a new local bridge account, 97 bridges will either be repaired or replaced statewide.
The transportation bill also prevents future ongoing state funding of the operating costs of Southwest Light Rail. This rail line has not even been built yet and we have already wasted taxpayer dollars on this disastrous, inefficient mode of transportation.
Job Growth and Energy: The Job Growth and Energy Affordability Committee, which I am a member on, worked hard this session to support economic development, energy, and housing, while also cutting spending on wasteful programs through:
· Improving vocational training for students wanting to enter the trades.
· Lowering energy bills for consumers by reducing and streamlining the regulatory process for energy providers.
· Reducing fees on construction-related permits and inspections to help encourage infrastructure projects.
· Providing job training opportunities for veterans reentering the workforce.
Legislation for Next Session:
Unfortunately, the bill to increase penalties for parents/guardians who subject their girls to female gentile mutilation was never voted on in the Senate despite having nearly unanimous support in the House. We need to pass this bill again next year and ensure the Senate passes it as well, so it can get to the Governor’s desk for his signature. We, as Minnesotans, should not tolerate this abusive and violent behavior towards girls by their parents.
You likely heard from me on the campaign trail about the need to dismantle the Met Council and return it back to its intended form as a sewer and water board. There was substantial reform in the first transportation bill that the Governor vetoed. He has said that he would be receptive to reforms that would not take effect until after his term as Governor was complete - I take him at his word. My colleagues and I will be putting Metropolitan Council reform on his desk in the next session with an effective date of January 1st, 2019.
I want to thank you again for allowing me to serve you in St. Paul. If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding any issue related to state government, please feel free to contact me.