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Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Poston (R)

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Capitol Newsletter: Budget Signed By Governor

Friday, June 2, 2017


The 2017 Legislative Session officially came to a close this past Tuesday evening after the Governor signed the proposed budget into law.

Below are the highlights of what was accomplished: lowering our taxes, repairing/replacing roads and bridges, funding our schools, helping veterans, and reforming the buffer law.

Budget Breakdown:

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 and a $25.5 million statewide increase for County Program Aid to help local governments pay for essential services.

  • Cass County: 43% increase
  • Todd County: 7% increase
  • Wadena County: 6% increase

There was also an additional $1.2 million funded directly to Wadena County for 2018 and 2019 to help stabilize the exploding costs of health and human services within the County. I would like to thank Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, Commissioner Sheldon Monson, and Commissioner Bill Stearns for their tireless work on this issue the past 3 years! 

Transportation: The transportation budget prioritizes Greater Minnesota’s need of road and bridge repair and improvement responsibly by using existing 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.

Education: The K12 education budget invests an additional $1.3 billion in our students, as well as make 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 shortages.

Veterans: Between the jobs & energy and the state government finance budget, as well as through the bonding bill, there are some new and expanded programs to help our veterans more easily assimilate back to civilian life:

  • Funding job training programs for veterans re-entering the civilian workforce
  • Expanding GI Bill flexibility to include apprenticeships and on-the-job training benefits, as well as professional and educational benefits.
  • Funding programs that help veterans purchase a home
  • Providing counsel for veterans with PTSD who get caught up in the legal system
  • Funding for the Eagle’s Healing Nest (veterans rest home offering lodging, 12-step programs, out-patient treatment, therapy, recreational activities, and community networking).

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.

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