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Minnesota Legislature

Jobs omnibus focuses on helping people get out of poverty, to benefit both individuals and state

The House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division listens to a nonpartisan staff walk-through of its omnibus finance bill April 2. Photo by Andrew VonBank

The ability to come home with a paycheck that covers the bills, keeps a roof overhead, and provides enough for some savings can give people confidence and a sense of honor in what they do.

“It not only helps us as a state, it helps that person. … Our job is to help people,” said Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), chair of the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division.

Mahoney sponsors HF2208, the division’s omnibus bill, which was amended and tabled for further discussion Tuesday. Testimony is scheduled to be taken Wednesday, followed by division mark-up Thursday.

The bill contains both policy and finance provisions aimed at helping people across the state get good jobs that can take them out of poverty and allow them to invest in their futures, Mahoney said.

It would be funded in the 2020-21 biennium through $343.84 million in direct appropriations from the General Fund and $68.41 million in appropriations from the Workforce Development Fund.

Nearly $75 million in the bill is tied to grants intended to help people getting out of poverty, $10 million of which is focused on establishing or expanding businesses. This would not only help owners of small and mid-sized businesses improve their own economic status, but also provide opportunities for others, Mahoney said.

The bill would also support employment services for people with criminal records, youth, and people with disabilities; programs to help small towns in Greater Minnesota achieve economic sustainability; and initiatives focused on closing the opportunity gap between Minnesotans of color and their white neighbors.

The bill would appropriate money to “significantly more” agencies than in the past, to fund the paid family and medical leave expansion proposed in HF5, which is sponsored Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan), said Solveig Beckel from the nonpartisan House Fiscal Analysis Department.

The bulk of that cost represented in the omnibus jobs and economic development bill is $32.52 million for the Department of Employment and Economic Development to cover administration, outreach, education, and technical assistance.

Other funding provisions tied to HF5 include:

  • $1.31 million to the Attorney General;
  • $674,000 to the Department of Human Services;
  • $157,000 to Minnesota Management and Budget;
  • $91,000 to the Revenue Department; and
  • $15,000 to the Supreme Court.

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove observed that the omnibus jobs and economic development finance bill focuses on the element of “community prosperity” highlighted as a priority in Gov. Tim Walz’s proposed budget, and commended the bill for these investments.

He also expressed enthusiasm for the bill’s support of the state’s “innovation economy,” including $5 million to fund the Minnesota Innovation Collaborative through operating grants, administration, and grantee activities, as proposed in the governor’s budget.

These initiatives are vital “for our state’s ecosystem,” Grove said. “New ideas are going to be required to achieve new results.”

He expressed concern, however, with the omnibus’s proposed levels of funding for the Minnesota Investment Fund and Minnesota Job Creation Fund, which – at a respective $9 million and $11 million – are both well below the funding levels proposed in the governor’s budget, he said.

The omnibus jobs and economic development finance bill does not contain any provisions related to broadband or Commerce Department energy resources, which are under consideration in different divisions this year, Mahoney said.

Other notable finance provisions in the bill would provide:

  • $75.88 million for vocational rehabilitation services, an $8 million increase over the biennium;
  • $2.87 million to support the establishment of child care businesses through WomenVenture, MN Initiative Foundations, and Child Care Economic Development Grants;
  • $2.8 million to fund the modernization of IT system updates at the Department of Labor and Industry;
  • $2.7 million in Metropolitan Job Training Grants;
  • $2.7 million in Job Training Grants to Greater Minnesota;
  • $2 million to provide support services competitive grant funding;
  • $2 million to Ujamaa Place;
  • $800,000 to Helmets to Hardhats; and
  • $500,000 in senior fraud prevention, as included in the governor’s original budget recommendations.

Some notable policy provisions would:

  • require DEED to produce a report on employment barriers for people with mental illnesses;
  • establish a pilot project to help special education students transition into employment after graduation;
  • clarify statutory language to improve the accessibility of public buildings;
  • allow bus drivers who work under contracts with schools to be considered eligible for unemployment insurance benefits during the summers; and
  • create a designated student loan advocate within the Department of Commerce.

What’s in the bill?

The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus jobs and economic development finance bill.

 


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