I hope you and your family are doing well as the temperatures are finally warming up! Down here at the Capitol, we’re working to deliver results for Minnesotans and improve their lives no matter where they might live. The House has passed its version of the state budget, as has the Senate, and now we’re working collaboratively to reach a compromise. So far, the legislative session has been extremely productive, and as we enter these final weeks of the session, I’m confident we will continue in an effective manner to get the job done.
In case you missed it, this week I submitted an op-ed to the Mesabi Tribune with an update on the session. If you’d like to learn more about our various proposals in each topic area, here are links to nonpartisan recaps: Higher Education, Legacy, Environment and Clean Energy, Housing, Veterans, Elections, State and Local Government, K-12 Education, Agriculture, Transportation, Early Learning, Children & Families, Jobs & Labor, Human Services, Pensions, Commerce, Judiciary & Public Safety, and Health.
Serving as chair of the House Property Tax Division, I’ve had the opportunity to help assemble our 2023 House Tax Bill. When looking at the package collectively, it delivers the largest tax cut in state history by making Social Security exempt from income taxes for 76% of retirees, delivering property tax cuts for renters and homeowners, enacting credits for families and college students, and providing rebates for 2.5 million Minnesotans. Through an additional $100 million for Local Government Aid and County Program Aid, our local communities will be able to count on ongoing support to keep property taxes in check while delivering vital services everyone deserves.
This is a pragmatic and balanced, yet powerful bill that will reduce costs, strengthen communities, and improve people’s lives over the long haul. Read more about our proposal here.
Yesterday, I was honored to join Governor Walz, my fellow legislators, and dozens of labor brothers and sisters as my bill to improve safety at oil refineries was signed into law. The bill requires a certain percentage of employees of contractors operating at the facilities to have registered apprenticeship-level training or five years of equivalent experience.
The effort to strengthen training requirements was never about union vs. nonunion workers; at its core, it is all about safety. But hardworking union members are the ones who drove the conversation to get this done for workers and the people who live nearby the facilities. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to carry this meaningful legislation.
Every child deserves a world-class education, but for too long, school funding hasn’t kept pace with inflation. On top of that, the past few years have been extremely difficult for students, parents, and teachers. Our House Education Budget Bill makes transformative investments in public education, with a 4% increase onto the per-pupil formula this coming year, with another 2% the next year. We also take the bold step of – for the first time – tying school funding formula increases to inflation so districts can have more predictable financing. Additionally, the budget reduces the Special Education cross-subsidy by nearly half, delivers $75 million in dedicated investments toward support staff like school counselors, psychologists, and nurses, and prepares students for life after graduation with a personal finance course requirement.
Anyone who drives on our roads knows our transportation infrastructure is falling apart. The American Society of Civil Engineers has, in fact, given Minnesota roads a dubious D+ distinction. I’m proud our House Transportation Budget addresses years of underfunding with comprehensive, sustainable investments in roads and bridges. In a significant move forward for our region, cities with populations under 5,000 will be able to count on road funding every year. Everyone who drives pays the gas tax – funding from which is constitutionally dedicated to roads and bridges – but currently only larger cities receive a share of these proceeds. All communities have transportation needs, and residents deserve to drive on safe, updated roads. The dedicated, new source of revenue contained in our budget will make a big impact for these small cities.
You’re invited to contact me to share your input and ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance. Please contact me anytime. It’s an honor to serve you at the State Capitol.