The governor has now signed the complete new state budget the Legislature sent him. A number of provisions with area ties have been approved within the series of finance bills, including five in the omnibus capital investment bill:
Also, in a separate omnibus tax bill, a provision was enacted allowing the half-cent sales tax local voters approved in a referendum to take effect and fund expansion and renovation of the Fergus Falls Public Library. On a somewhat related note: The omnibus K-12 education bill includes grants to support libraries that Fergus Falls could tap into.
Overall, the K-12 bill as enacted provides $1.35 billion in new education funding over the current biennium – a 2-percent increase in each of the next two years – which equates to $245 more for every student. The bill also features funding for early learning initiatives including scholarships and school readiness aid plus. The legislation also helps keep the best teachers in the classroom and creates a new academic achievement initiative to help low-income students succeed in school.
I will pass along more news soon, including an update on the unprecedented and unconstitutional step the governor has taken this week by defunding the Legislature. This is an extremely disappointing move, attempting to silence both the House and Senate for the next four years. This behavior is hard to comprehend after such a successful year for the Legislature. It is not right to wipe out an entire branch of government, so we will see what transpires.