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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Lyndon Carlson, Sr. (DFL)

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Continuing to Build on Minnesota's Progress

Friday, April 04, 2014
Dear neighbors,
 
This session, we continue to expand economic opportunity to more Minnesotans. Yesterday, the House passed its supplemental budget that will grow our economy from the middle-out while investing in bread-and-butter priorities to create more jobs and economic opportunity. Today, the House unanimously passed a second tax bill of this session to provide further tax cuts for Minnesotans.
 
Minnesota’s growing economy and strong budget passed in 2013 created a $1.2 billion budget surplus. The legislature has moved quickly to utilize about half of that surplus already, approving $443 million in tax cuts and directing $150 million to bolster the state’s budget reserve. 
 
The House is building on that progress with a supplemental budget that puts middle class families, students and seniors ahead of wealthy special interests through a supplemental budget. 
 
Highlights of the supplemental budget include:
 
Job creation and infrastructure
  • Invests in economic development resources to support job growth and the business sectors critical to Minnesota’s economic future. 
  • Invests in additional critical statewide infrastructure.
  • Invests in broadband access in Greater Minnesota
Education
  • Provides a funding increase for K-12 schools to help address the costs of teacher evaluations and to further improve education outcomes.
  • Provides more Minnesota children with access to affordable, high-quality early learning opportunities
  • Fully funds reduced price school lunches to ensure no Minnesota child is turned away in the lunch line (passed off the House floor).
  • Invests in our higher education institutions to improve students’ access to an affordable college education.
Health care and human services
  • Provides an additional 5 percent increase for home and community-based health care workers who provide care for the elderly and disabled.
  • Increases funding for nursing homes and provide additional investments in senior nutrition.
Transportation
  • Provides funding to local governments throughout the state to address the need to repair potholes after the worst winter in recent memory.
  • Builds on the progress last session with further investment in “Corridors of Commerce” funding for statewide highway repairs.
  • Increases firefighter training and adds rail safety inspectors to improve Minnesota’s railroad and pipeline safety.
  • Increases funding for Safe Routes to Schools to help Minnesota students get to and from school more safely.
Public Safety and Disaster Assistance
  • Supports the Department of Corrections, in addition to funding specific public safety bills assisting crime victims, such as enhanced penalties for repeat criminal sexual offenders. 
  • Establishes a Disaster Assistance Contingency Account to provide critical disaster relief without the need for a special legislative session.
Agriculture and Environment
  • Invests in Farm to Food-Shelf funding – funding goes to Second Harvest to reimburse food producers for labor costs when producers donate surplus food to food banks. 
  • Establishes the Terrestrial Invasive Species Research Center to conduct research on invasive and problematic plants and pests in MN and traveling to MN, giving farmers and growers more tools to address terrestrial problems facing the state.
Continuing on the progress made in the first tax bill and the supplemental budget, the House unanimously passed a second tax bill this session. This second tax bill includes $103 million in further tax cuts for Minnesota homeowners, renters, businesses, and members of the military:
  • Homeowners: A one-time increase for all Homestead Credit Refunds paid in 2014. Each and every homeowner receiving a refund will see a 3% increase, providing an additional $12.1 million in property tax relief to 500,000 Minnesota homeowners. This comes on top of the $133 million in direct property tax relief passed in 2013 for homeowners and rents.
  • Renters: A one-time increase for all Renters’ Credit Refunds paid in 2014. Each and every renter receiving a refund will see a 6% increase, providing an additional $12.5 million in property tax relief to 350,000 Minnesota renters. This comes on top of the $133 million in direct property tax relief passed in 2013 for homeowners and renters.
  • Small Businesses: Small businesses with property value less than $1.1 million by excluding all commercial and industrial property value less than $150,000 from the statewide general property tax. The bill also includes sales tax reforms that provide additional sales tax relief to small businesses. 
  • Members of the Military: Our military members will also see tax relief by extending our active military income tax subtraction to National Guard service members in the Active Guard Reserve.
On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the Women’s Economic Security Act and recommended it be placed on the general register for a vote on the House floor. The Women’s Economic Security Act builds on Minnesota’s positive economic progress by ensuring opportunities for women to succeed in the workplace and to provide for their families. 
 
The Women’s Economic Security Act:
  • Allows mothers to stay in the workforce by expanding family leave and providing reasonable accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees
  • Expands access to high-quality, affordable childcare
  • Decreases the gender pay gap through the participation of women in high-wage, high-demand nontraditional work
  • Reduces the gender pay gap through increased enforcement of equal pay laws for state contractors and by allowing employees to discuss pay inequities
  • Decreases the gender pay gap by providing equal employment opportunities for family caregivers and reducing the “motherhood penalty”
  • Addresses economic consequences of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault
  • Enhances retirement security by considering a state retirement savings plan for those without an employer-provided option
Providing these policies and economic opportunities for women, who make up half of the state’s workforce, is key to our state’s economic future. When women have equal opportunities to succeed, our families, communities and economy are stronger. 
 
It’s been a very busy and productive session in the House and there is still work to be done for Minnesotan families and businesses. 
 
Please stay in touch during this year’s Legislative Session by sharing any questions, comments or other feedback. You can reach me by phone at (651) 296-4255 or by email at rep.lyndon.carlson@house.mn.
 
Sincerely,
 
Representative Lyndon Carlson
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