Hello friends and neighbors,
Last week, Governor Dayton signed the budget into law, putting an official end to the 2017 Legislative Session.
I have spent the last few days hosting multiple town halls within the communities throughout our district, providing detail and answering questions regarding the results of this session. I have heard from some folks who were wondering if the budget is not complete due to the Governor’s line-item veto of the Legislature’s operating funding. To clarify: the budget IS complete; the legislative funding issue will be resolved separately.
I am very proud of what was accomplished this session and I would like to highlight some of what was done:
Breakdown 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; the largest tax relief package in almost 20 years!
- 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.
The tax bill also provides a $15 million statewide increase for Local Government Aid (LGA) and a $25.5 million statewide increase for County Program Aid (CPA) to help local governments pay for essential services.
CPA funding increases:
- Goodhue: 14.67%
- Wabasha: 10.71%
Transportation: The transportation budget prioritizes Greater Minnesota’s need of road and bridge repairs and improvements responsibly by using existing transportation-related revenue sources. In the next two years alone, an additional $300 million will be invested in the state’s transportation infrastructure with an additional $16 million for small cities’ road projects. Also, through the creation of a new local bridge account, 97 bridges will either be repaired or replaced statewide. Altogether, this is the largest investment in our roads and bridges in state history without raising taxes.
Increased County State Aid Highway funding over the next 4 years:
- Goodhue County: $1,875,394
- Wabasha County: $1,366,922
Increased Municipal State Aid Street funding over the next 4 years:
- Red Wing: $268,914
- Lake City: $73,433
Estimated Small Cities Assistance funding over the next 2 years:
- Bellechester: $10,204
- Goodhue: $21,374
- Wabasha: $44,306
- Cannon Falls: $64,166
Education: The K12 education budget invests an additional $1.3 billion in our students.
District funding increases:
- Cannon Falls: $475,975
- Goodhue: $274,621
- Kenyon-Wanamingo: $348,152
- Lake City: $519,456
- Red Wing: $1.14 million
- Wabasha-Kellogg: $256,244
The bill also makes some significant reforms:
- Ending the default "Last In, First Out" layoff policy to ensure schools can keep the best teachers in the classroom.
- Expanding pre-K scholarships.
- Overhauling the broken teacher licensure system in order to help schools address teacher shortage.
Bonding Projects: I was able to secure funding within the bonding bill for some very important projects in need of completion within our community:
- Sturgeon Lake Road Rail Grade Crossing-new overpass for Sturgeon Lake Road
- River Town Renaissance-levy improvements and further restoration of the Sheldon Theater.
Buffer Reforms: The following changes were made to the buffer law in order to make it more workable for farmers and landowners:
- Deadline Waiver: A temporary waiver for up to 8 months, available through local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) will be available for those not able to comply with the November 1, 2017 deadline for buffer installation on public waters.
- Alternative Practices: SWCDs will now be able to approve alternative practices based on local conditions.
- Cost Share: $5 million from the Clean Water Fund will be available through SWCDs for landowners interested in technical or financial assistance to establish buffers or alternative practices.
- Seed Mixes: To prevent the spread of palmer amaranth or other noxious weeds, seed mixes must follow Minnesota's current seed verification process.
- Definition of Public Waters: The definition of "public waters" was narrowed for purposes of the buffer law to be ONLY waters designated in the last Public Waters Inventory (PWI) update. Existing law pointed to a much broader definition of “public waters” and this change clarifies the intent of the 2015 agreement.
Stay In Touch:
If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding anything related to state government, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or 651-296-8635.
I appreciate your comments and concerns as it helps me be a better representative.
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