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Legislative Update - April 27, 2017
Activity has shifted to conference committees at the Capitol. With less than four weeks left in the legislative session, I’m hopeful we’ll see House and Senate Republicans release joint budget numbers that prioritize things Minnesotans care about like education, transportation and infrastructure projects rather than tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy and well connected.
Here’s a brief summary of some of the budget bills that passed the House and are now in conference committee:
The Omnibus Public Safety Bill contains enhanced penalties for terrorist acts, sex offenders, and people who possess and create child pornography. These measures are widely supported, but the bill also contains more controversial provisions to increase penalties for peaceful protests, and to allow private prisons to operate in Minnesota—allowing corporations to profit off of our justice system.
The Omnibus Transportation Bill does not include sustainable, long-term funding for roads, bridges, and transit, and pits regions of Minnesota against one another instead of providing a transportation vision to benefit the whole state. The bill would result in a 40% reduction in regular bus route service, and doesn’t include funding to finish Southwest Light Rail (SWLRT). The bill redirects funding away from schools, nursing homes, public safety, and other areas to make only minimal investments in our transportation infrastructure.
The Omnibus E-12 Education Bill underfunds our public schools, which would result in teacher lay-offs, larger class sizes, and less resources for students. It also eliminates funding for optional, free pre-kindergarten for thousands of students across the state, shortchanging our students.
The Omnibus Higher Education Bill underfunds the University of Minnesota and public colleges and universities, which would lead to increases in four year tuition for students. Minnesota already holds the fifth highest student debt in the nation.
Environment & Natural Resources
The Omnibus Environment & Natural Resources Bill rolls back environmental protections and cuts funding that protects our natural resources, endangering Minnesota’s lands, waters, air, and wildlife.
Job Growth & Energy
The Omnibus Job Growth & Energy Bill cuts job creation efforts, consumer protections, racial and economic disparities efforts, workforce housing, and rolls back Minnesota’s renewable energy progress.
State Government Finance
The Omnibus State Government Finance Bill puts Minnesotans at risk by not investing in cybersecurity and slashing government services. The bill would lay-off hardworking Minnesotans, and deregulates elections— paving the way for more “dark money” and corporate influence in campaigns.
Health & Human Services
The Omnibus Health& Human Services Bill cuts $600 million from the HHS budget, putting our entire health care system in jeopardy—including vital services Minnesotans depend on. This is especially reckless at a time when we face serious federal uncertainty surrounding health care.
The cuts and underfunding in other budget bills make way for the spending in the tax bill. The Omnibus Tax Bill contains tax cuts favoring corporations and the rich, including a $161 million estate tax cut for the wealthiest Minnesotans and a business property tax freeze. The bill excludes other measures to help hardworking families such as the Working Family Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Credit, and Local Government Aid (LGA) to reduce property taxes for homeowners and renters.
Also don’t forget, you can now file for your property tax refund or renters credit
: Now that you’ve likely filed your taxes for the year, I wanted to remind everyone to apply for a property tax refund or renters credit. The deadline to file for a property tax refund is August 15th
, but it is often easiest to file the paperwork now. Take a few minutes and apply for your refund online at the Department of Revenue’s Property Tax Refund website
I recently had the pleasure of meeting with two school counselors, including former Rep. Tom Tillberry, advocating for increased school funding.
As always, it’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol working on the issues we all care so deeply about.