Conference committees between the House and Senate have finalized their major budget bills. The Education, Health and Human Services, Taxes, Transportation, Environment, Agriculture, and State Government conference committee reports have received final passage by the legislature and now await Governor Dayton's signature.
The Governor, however, did not fulfill his commitment to provide budget targets, so these bills use "best guess" budget numbers. It's a very unusual way of doing the state's business, and I say so after having served under four different governors.
Without cooperation from the Governor to reach agreed-upon budget numbers, it appears the Governor is building a case for vetoing these bills. Most governors seek compromise and work together with legislators to iron out differences in policy language until all the bills are wrapped up and the legislature adjourns. Below are some general highlights from a few of these major budget bills.
- Invests in our schools. Minnesota schools will see more than $1.1 billion in increased funding to ensure that every child in Minnesota has access to a great education.
- Places More Dollars in the Classroom. Focusing the vast majority of new funding on the per-pupil formula will ensure education resources are put where they're most effective—in the classroom helping students and teachers.
- Tackles the Teacher Shortage. Key reforms and innovative grant programs will help schools retain the best teachers and recruit the next generation of teachers to address shortages in Greater Minnesota.
Public Safety & Judiciary
- Offers Cost-Saving Drug Treatment Options. Grant funding gives communities expanded treatment options as an alternative to incarceration when technical violations of conditions of supervision occur, a course that is more effective and less costly.
- Supports Law Enforcement. Respecting our police men and women by giving them resources for training programs and creating penalties for those who impersonating an officer and tamper with public safety vehicles.
- Keeps Our Neighborhoods Safe. Combating sex trafficking and terrorism recruitment will mean safer communities across the state.
- Invests in Roads & Bridges. $5.35 billion in increased funding to fix our roads and bridges—without a harmful gas tax increase! Infusing much needed resources for our state highways, county roads, city streets and township roads, the bill also provides significant resources for small cities that currently do not receive constitutionally dedicated transportation revenues.
- Relieves Congestion. Drivers will spend less time in traffic due $350 million in new funding for the Corridors of Commerce Program, which focuses on adding lane capacity and congestion relief along our state’s busiest highways.
- Builds Safer Bridges & Rail Crossings. Drivers will travel safely with more than $25 million for the local bridge replacement program, improvements to rail safety, and critical safety upgrades at some of the most dangerous rail crossings across the state.
- Establishes Fair & Transparent Construction Process. A reformed, transparent process will ensure each road construction project is scored and ranked so everyone can see where their local projects stand in comparison to other projects statewide—fixing key issues identified by the Office of the Legislative Auditor.
- Restores Funding to Bus Transit. Ensuring continued bus service in the Metro area thanks to increased funding for cost-effective transit options.
Health and Human Services
- Protects Minnesota Seniors. Prioritizes the safety of our most vulnerable with increased investigations of elderly abuse complaints by the Office of Health Facilities Complaints.
- Fights the Opioid Epidemic. New prescription limits, and grants for prevention and treatment of opioid addiction will save lives and fight back against the rising opioid abuse epidemic.
- Reduces Waste, Fraud, and Abuse. Common-sense eligibility checks will prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in our public programs, saving taxpayers millions each year.
- Puts Money in Seniors’ Pockets. Reducing state taxes on social security will mean a raise for thousands of Minnesota senior citizens.
- Reduces the Tax Burden for Farmers. Property tax relief for farmers though a new school building bonds agricultural credit makes referendums more fair and reduces taxes for those who put food on our table.
- Makes College Affordable. A first-in-the-nation tax credit for student loan debt and new tax incentives for families saving for college will help lower the cost of higher education for Minnesota families.
- Reinvests in Hometown Businesses. Eliminating an unfair and automatic tax increase and providing relief from the extra property tax paid by businesses of all sizes will make Minnesota a better place to grow jobs across the state.
- Reduces the Cost of Childcare. The dependent care credit will put more money in the pockets of families with young children, helping to lower the increasing cost of childcare.
- Creates Efficient & Effective Government. Manageable reductions and increased reporting requirements will reduce the cost of state government for taxpayers and make it more accountable to the people it serves.
- Prioritizes Our Veterans. Keeping our promise to National Guard members through enhancing educational and job training opportunities and moving the State forward on gaining approval for new veterans' homes in Greater Minnesota.
Again, the Governor Dayton has spent very little time negotiating with House and Senate leadership, even though the House passed our budget bills before Easter. Please call Governor Dayton and ask that he sign these essential bills to help our state government function efficiently and cut waste. I will keep you updated as we finish out session in the next couple of weeks.