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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL)

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Minnesota House DFL releases tax, education, labor, and workforce budget bills

Monday, April 05, 2021

St. Paul, Minnesota — Minnesota House DFL leaders and legislators released tax, education, labor, and workforce budget bills today. The legislation includes significant ongoing investments in education, prioritizes economic assistance to those most impacted by COVID-19, and asks big corporations and the wealthiest to pay their fair share in order to fund these needed investments. 

“The House DFL budget assists those most impacted by COVID-19: our students, workers, families, and small businesses,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Our budget raises progressive revenue to fund the priorities that Minnesotans value, help them weather what’s left of the pandemic and then thrive once it’s behind us. Minnesotans deserve a budget that will help them recover, not a Republican plan that makes unnecessary cuts and prioritizes those who did the best during COVID.” 

“Minnesotans have been working hard and making enormous sacrifices to survive the pandemic, and they need their state government to be there for them so they can emerge stronger,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “The rich and well-connected are doing better than ever, and they can afford to be part of the solution. Under the House DFL budget, the biggest corporations and richest Minnesotans will pay their fair share to help families and workers emerge stronger from the pandemic.”

“At this critical moment, lawmakers must prioritize the Minnesotans who have faced the greatest hardship over the past year, and who have the biggest hills to climb so they can once again have the opportunity to succeed,” said Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – Saint Paul), Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “If we’ve learned anything during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve learned that Minnesotans can tackle big challenges, but this can only happen when everyone is truly at the table, not just those who were doing well before the pandemic. Our investments in students, workers, families, and small businesses – with an eye toward equity – will help all Minnesotans have the strong future they deserve.”

Under the House DFL tax bill, families and workers benefit from an expansion of the Working Family Tax Credit. In addition to conformity on unemployment insurance and PPP loans (up to $350,000 per loan), the bill uses a County Business Relief Aid program to provide financial support for small businesses that did not receive a PPP loan or did not make a profit in 2020. Homeowners and renters also benefit under the bill, with bigger property tax refunds and aid to prevent homelessness. To pay for investments in students, workers, families, and small businesses, the House DFL tax bill creates a new 5th Tier income tax rate of 11.15% on income above $1 million (or $500,000 for single filers) and prevents multinational corporations from sheltering profits in offshore tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Click here to view tax bill spreadsheets. 

“Minnesotans understand that the biggest corporations and the wealthy have done extremely well during this pandemic, so the House DFL has put together a tax bill that levels the playing field and pays for important investments in people,” said Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth), chair of the House Tax Committee. “Under the House DFL tax plan, we create more fairness to ensure families, workers, and small businesses hit hardest by COVID-19 are not left behind. Minnesota is a state of abundance, and we have the resources to take care of our neighbors who are hurting the most right now.”

The House DFL’s E-12 education budget stabilizes school investments with a 2 percent per pupil increase each of the next two years, with additional increases the following two years so schools can do long-term strategic planning and be confident that they will have the resources they need. Under the proposal, voluntary Pre-Kindergarten programming that would otherwise expire is protected for 4,000 of Minnesota’s youngest learners. House DFLers are also prioritizing the needs of students and teachers after an unprecedented year with funding for full-service community schools, and targeted aid for more rigorous coursework, individualized tutoring, and mental health support.

“While Minnesota has a proud tradition of delivering a world class education for our students, the pandemic has highlighted this hasn’t been provided for many Minnesotan children and their families — especially in our communities of color — for far too long,” said House Education Finance Chair Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis). “Our education budget is a values blueprint, and House DFLers are ready to deliver the resources needed to make an honest investment in education; one that assists teachers, and provides the necessary support our students need to get caught up after a difficult year. Our students and families deserve no less.”

The House DFL E-12 budget funds the Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers Act, which expands legislative efforts to recruit and retain teachers of color and American Indian Teachers. Additionally, the bill contains provisions to improve school environments so they are more welcoming places for students and teachers of color.

“Now more than ever, our students and families need the support they deserve for an opportunity to be successful,” said House Education Policy Chair Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights). “The education budget takes critical steps forward in responding to the pandemic and reducing unacceptable racial disparities in our state.”

The House DFL’s early childhood budget invests nearly $600 million in state and federal funds to help close the $1 billion gap in care and learning for the youngest and lowest-income Minnesotans. It raises reimbursement rates for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), finally getting Minnesota close to the federal standard. It also provides monthly payments to providers and frontline workers in recognition of the critical need for ongoing public support for this fundamental sector. In addition, the budget delivers nearly $40 million for early learning scholarships, grants to expand the supply of child care, and funding for evaluation and reform.

“Investing in early care and learning benefits us all,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul), Chair of the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee. “We are taking action to make high-quality child care more accessible and affordable, ensure providers are compensated fairly, and help close Minnesota’s persistent opportunity gap. Investing in the youngest and most vulnerable Minnesotans will allow parents to work, employers to hire, and communities to grow while setting our children and our state up for long-term success.” 

The higher education budget continues the House DFL’s commitment to students with strong ongoing investments of over $110 million to Minnesota’s public colleges and universities. The measure also holds tuition flat at Minnesota State, and increases funding to the State Grant Program impacting over 75,000 students. Significantly, the higher education budget prioritizes financial support for people of color and American Indians studying to become teachers, which is an important tool in helping close the opportunity gap in Minnesota. 

“We put together a higher education budget that serves students now, and in the future,” said House Higher Education Finance and Policy Chair Connie Bernardy (DFL-New Brighton). “Minnesota students deserve the opportunity to achieve their dreams and provide economic security for themselves and their families. We’re investing in Minnesotans, so they can thrive and emerge stronger post-pandemic.”

The House DFL Labor and Industry budget protects Minnesota workers during the pandemic and beyond. It includes Earned Sick and Safe Time legislation, rehire and retention protections for workers laid off during the pandemic, and emergency paid sick leave for health care workers. It also includes the Safe Workplaces for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers Act to address health and safety concerns, many of which existed before COVID-19 and only grew worse during the pandemic. The bill requires outside contractors working at oil refineries to have apprenticeship training to protect workers and communities surrounding the facilities. Finally, it expands nursing and pregnancy accommodations to require paid break times for nursing and lactating employees.

“Minnesota workers have borne a massive share of the COVID-19 pandemic’s brunt, and the crisis has widened job security and job safety inequities in workplaces across the state,” said Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls), Chair of the House Labor, Industry, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee. “House DFLers are prioritizing the health, safety, and economic security of workers when they’re on the job, when they need to recover from illness, and if they lost their job during the pandemic due to no fault of their own.”

The Workforce and Business Development budget establishes a framework designed to inform Minnesota’s economic stabilization and long-term recovery. The legislation will strengthen business competitiveness, workforce development, and improve workplace benefits. Businesses in need of financial relief will qualify for grants to combat lost revenues related to the disruption of business operations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill will provide long-term investment in business and workforce growth, workplace benefits, and childcare business development. For equitable distribution of funds, the bill directs the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to handle all appropriation of grants to build in accountability and ensure traditionally underserved communities can recover, rebuild, and further develop their businesses. 

“More than a year into the pandemic, big corporations continue to raise their profits while the average Minnesotan struggles to pay rent, mortgage or put food on the table. Workers across the state are trying their best to make ends meet, yet we fail to support them through the demands of work, family, and medical needs,” said Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-Minneapolis), chair of the House Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee. “We are almost to the finish line, but we are not quite there yet, and together, we can move towards a more equitable and prosperous economy for all Minnesotans.” 

House budget bills will be moving through the committee process this week with floor action expected to begin in mid-April. The third committee deadline — for committees to act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills — is Friday, April 9th.