For more information contact: Matt Privratsky 651-296-6860
Dear Neighbors and Friends,
The Legislature adjourned on May 16 just before midnight, marking the first time we’ve finished early in over a decade. With so much work getting done in such a short amount of time, it can be difficult to remember all the positive steps we took over the past two years. Hopefully this overview can give you a sense of the things we accomplished since coming to the Capitol in January of 2013.
2013-2014 Legislature: Progress for Minnesota
· Invested $525 million in Minnesota’s E-12 education system, providing needed funding for schools to reduce class sizes and boost student achievement. That’s roughly $300 per pupil.
· Fully funded all-day, every day kindergarten for every Minnesota child for the first time in state history and invested in early learning scholarships aimed at closing the achievement gap.
· Paid back the IOU owed to our schools in full.
· Froze college tuition for students at U of M and MnSCU after a decade of historic tuition increases and debt and provided significant new resources to the state grant program.
Middle-Class Tax Cuts
· The legislature put middle-class Minnesotans first with the $1.2 billion surplus, providing $550 million in tax cuts to more than 2 million Minnesotans.
· Thanks to $178 million in direct property tax relief, property taxes are going down statewide for the first time in a decade — homeowners in particular are seeing more than a $161 million decrease in property taxes (after direct relief).
Balanced Budget That Puts Middle-Class First
· Reversed ten years of “all-cuts and gimmicks” budgeting with a responsible plan that asks wealthiest Minnesotans and corporations to pay their fair share to make investments in education, job creation, and property tax relief.
· Due to the growing economy and honest budget, this legislature turned a budget deficit into a $1.2 billion surplus.
· The legislature added $150 million to our budget reserve and has a $600 million expected surplus into the future. This is the first structurally balanced budget in more than a decade.
A Stronger Economy
· Raised Minnesota’s minimum wage in stages to $9.50 for large business and $7.75 for small businesses by August 2016. More than 350,000 Minnesotans will get a raise and small businesses will have a lower rate.
· Enacted the Women’s Economic Security Act, which aims to close the gender pay gap, strengthen workplace protections and flexibility for pregnant mothers, and expand employment opportunities for women in high-wage, high-demand professions.
· Focused on makes critical investments to grow our economy in Greater Minnesota, such as broadband infrastructure, economic development resources, and farm-to-food shelf legislation.
· Invested in proven strategies to support job creation: the Minnesota Investment Fund to encourage small businesses expansion, the Minnesota Trade Office to help Minnesota small businesses compete globally, and key workforce development investments to help address our state’s “job skills” gap.
· Cut $346 million in taxes for small businesses – one of the largest tax cuts for small businesses in state history – by reducing the rate employers pay to fund the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
Health and Human Services
· Prioritized nursing homes and long-term care provider by providing them with a much-needed funding increase.
· Funded cost-preventive mental health initiatives for adults and children, such as expanding school-based mental health services and mental health crisis response services.
· More than 200,000 Minnesotans have obtained high-quality, affordable health insurance through MNsure, many of them for the first time in their lives — and at the lowest rates in the nation. We’re not going back to the days of denials for pre-existing conditions or having your coverage dropped when you get sick.
The important thing to remember is that much of this work was done with bipartisan support. Funding all day kindergarten, freezing college tuition, and supporting our nursing home and long term care workers are things that nearly all Minnesotans agree on. Those are the kinds of things we focused on this session.
Cutting taxes for families and businesses will help make sure our economy can continue to improve. Investing in job training and workforce development will help businesses bring in new employees.
We made a lot of progress in less than two years, and we know that there’s still work to do. Please let me know if you have any questions about the bills I worked on at the Capitol this session. I’d be more than happy to talk with you.
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