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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Bud Nornes (R)

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More budget bills approved by House

Friday, April 07, 2017

Dear Neighbor,

Transportation, higher education and K-12 omnibus finance bills for the state’s next two-year budget are among the packages the House has approved in recent days.

The transportation bill (H.F. 861) provides the framework for a 10-year, $6 billion increase in transportation funding without raising the gas tax, metro sales tax or increasing license tab fees. This includes $2.1 billion toward our transportation needs over the next two years alone, with an emphasis on roads and bridges.

Key points include:

  • Added transportation funding is achieved by capturing revenue from existing auto-related sales tax streams including the sales tax from auto parts and rental cars, as well as the motor vehicle lease tax and dedicating them to a newly established Transportation Priorities Fund for roads and bridges.
  • In addition to increased funding for counties and municipalities, this bill would fund the entirety of MnDOT’s local bridge list (97 bridges) and fund $25 million for the successful Small Cities Assistance Program. Key highway infrastructure receives $300 million in one-time Corridors of Commerce funding for Fiscal Year 2018.
  • Greater Minnesota transit will receive more than $2 million in increased funding.

The House also has approved a partial tuition reduction for two-year state colleges as part of the higher education omnibus finance package I authored as chairman of that respective House committee.

The bill (S.F. 2214) provides $3.2 billion in General Fund appropriations, which is a $149.5 million increase over the current biennial total. This includes $1.4 billion to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, an increase of $93.6 million in 2018-19. It freezes tuition for two-year state colleges during the 2017-18 school year and provides a 1-percent reduction in 2018-19. Tuition at state universities would be frozen in 2019.

The core objective in our committee has been to put students first and this bill accomplishes that. With tuition costs rising across the country, we are working to make sure middle-class families can afford a quality education for their kids.

In addition to the Minnesota State system, the bill also funds:

  • U of M: $1.1 billion ($22 million increase over Feb. forecast)
  • Office of Higher Education: $501 million ($33.8 million above Feb. forecast)
  • Mayo: $2.7 million (even with Feb. forecast)

The K-12 finance package (H.F. 890) approved by the House combines $1.1 billion in increased funding with reforms, targeting dollars toward proven early learning initiatives.

Top provisions beyond the $1.1 billion funding increase include:

  • Over $10 million in additional funding for school districts with higher than usual transportation costs.
  • $22 million toward a new, targeted academic achievement initiative that funds before school, afterschool and summer programs to help low-income kids.
  • More than $300 million for proven early learning programs.
  • $40 million for Enhanced School Readiness funds.
  • Approximately $2.3 million to implement the Professional Educator License and Standards Board to replace the troubled Board of Teaching, following recommendations by the OLA and Teacher Licensing Work Group.
  • Continues GOP-led efforts to strengthen teacher recruitment and retention, especially in areas with teacher shortages.

Sincerely,

Bud

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