Before we get to news from St. Paul, I want to touch on a couple of local items of interest from events I attended in our area last weekend.
First, congratulations to all those who helped put on such a successful Walk for Parks at Glendalough State Park on Saturday. There was a tremendous turnout for this, the 20th year of the event, and around $16,000 was raised to help conduct park improvements. I enjoyed seeing so many people at the park and even walked six miles myself.
Also on Saturday, I was in Battle Lake to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the new childcare facility being built in town. There was strong turnout for this event as well and that is a real tribute to the people in our region who have helped bring this project along. It was a nice touch that, in addition to adult-sized shovels used for the ceremony, mini shovels were made available to children. The plan is to get the facility up and running by this fall, providing child care services for around 45 children and their families. Great job again to those involved with this project.
Congratulations to Dr. Carrie Brimhall, pictured above, who has been named the next president of the Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Dr. Brimhall is a graduate of M State and has served the system for 20 years, most recently as chief academic officer and vice president of Academic Affairs. Dr. Brimhall’s tenure begins July 1 and I look forward to good things.
In last week’s email, I mentioned how Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed supplemental budget would raise taxes on Minnesotans of every income level, while also making Minnesota's tax code more regressive and hitting households making less than $32,000 would be hit hardest.
The House continues working on its supplemental budget and the tax portion has been unveiled. It features a historic second tier income tax rate reduction and more than 2.1 million Minnesota filers will benefit from a tax cut in tax year 2018. A provision to trim the second tier income tax rate from 7.05 percent to 6.75 percent by tax year 2020. This would mark the first income tax rate reduction in Minnesota since 2000.
Omnibus bills now have begun coming to the House floor for votes from the complete body, including a package related to education that we approved yesterday.
Student safety a top priority and the House is working on legislation to provide school districts with the resources and local flexibility they need to address school safety and student mental health. Here are some highlights of a bill which passed the House floor include:
A number of higher education provisions also were included, highlighted by measures to fund student loan debt counseling, to bring new sexual harassment reporting requirements and policies to the U of M, and to support a textbook affordability initiative. Overall, $4 million in supplemental funding is appropriated to state colleges and universities, along with $1 million to Metro State for cybersecurity programming, and $500,000 to each the University of Minnesota and the Office of Higher Education.
The higher ed committee has done well to address a number of important areas in this brief session. I am pleased that in a non-budget year we still were able to provide funding for initiatives that once again highlight our mission to put students first.