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State Representative JoAnn Ward

231 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-7807

For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875

Posted: Apr 7 2014 11:55AM
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E-Update

Legislative update: Lawmakers are keeping Minnesota’s economy on the right track


Dear neighbors,

When I took office, Minnesota faced a $600 million budget deficit and owed our schools over $800 million in debt. In addition to shaky finances, previous lawmakers had made painful cuts to priorities like education, health care and transportation.

A decade of disinvestment took a bad toll on our economy. Thankfully, the current Legislature has made tremendous progress in growing Minnesota’s economy from the middle-out. We balanced the budget in a way that was honest and fair, paid back the school shift in full, and invested in priorities that Minnesotans broadly share such as education and job creation.

As a result, Minnesota’s economy is much stronger today than when I took office. Employers added nearly 50,000 jobs over the past year, we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the entire country and our state’s finances are on solid footing for the first time in years. Thanks our outstanding businesses, talented workforce and strong fiscal management at the state capitol, Minnesota generated at $1.2 billion budget surplus.

This year, we continue to take steps to keep our state on the right track. While we cannot make up for a decade of disinvestment in a single legislative session, I am pleased with the progress we’ve made. And I think Minnesotans have good reason to be optimistic about our future.

Here is a quick look at some of the big issues lawmakers tackled last week that will help grow our economy right now and into the future.

SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET:

Last Thursday, House lawmakers passed a supplemental budget that builds on Minnesota’s positive economic momentum. The budget includes investments in the following priorities:

More funding for every school

$54 million to boost the funding formula by one percent (an increase of $58 per student).

Hot lunches for low-income students

$3.5 million to expand the school lunch program so no student is ever denied a meal due to the inability to pay.

Investments in early childhood education

Over $4 million for early childhood literacy programs, school readiness aid and developmental screening aid.

Wage increases

$80.36 million for a 5% wage increase for home-and-community-based health care workers who provide care for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Critical transportation funding

Additional investments in highways, roads and bridges as well as funding for local governments to fill potholes.

ADDITIONAL MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUTS:

After already approving $443 million in tax cuts benefiting over one million Minnesotans, House lawmakers passed a second tax bill last Friday that provides $103 million in additional tax relief for Minnesota homeowners, renters, farmers and businesses, including:

  • $12.1 million in tax relief for 500,000 homeowners, with every eligible homeowner receiving a three percent boost to their property tax refund.
     
  • $12.5 million for 350,000 renters, with every eligible renter receiving a six percent boost to their refund.

These additional tax cuts will build on the $133 million investment in direct property tax relief lawmakers made last year.

BONDING BILL:

House lawmakers unveiled a bonding bill last week. It includes $850 million in bonds and $125 million in one-time cash expenditures from Minnesota’s budget surplus to help finance statewide infrastructure projects in higher education, transportation, housing, economic development, clean water and wastewater systems – the kinds of things that lay the foundation for economic growth right now and into the future.

I’m particularly pleased with funding for several projects in our communities, including ongoing land and water restoration at Fish Creek in Maplewood and development on the Gateway Corridor.

STAY IN TOUCH:

Please contact me with any questions, ideas or comments about the 2014 Legislative Session. Feel free to contact me by phone at (651) 296-7807 or by email at rep.joann.ward@house.mn with any questions as well. I always appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,

 

JoAnn Ward
State Representative, District 53A

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