ST. PAUL, MN – Lawmakers concluded a successful 2008 legislative session having provided transportation funding, property tax relief for homeowners, and much-needed funding for schools. In addition, the legislature passed health care reform. Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL – Brooklyn Park) was pleased the Legislature delivered results on the bread and butter issues affecting Minnesota.
"Two years ago we set out to deliver results on the issues that mattered most to Minnesotans – quality schools, better roads and safer bridges, and relief from rising property taxes and health care premiums," said Hortman, Assistant Majority Leader in the House of Representatives. "Two years later, we have accomplished our goals and moved Minnesota in the right direction on every one of these issues."
Hortman said a major victory came early in the session with the override of the Governor's veto of the transportation bill. Many local projects, such as improvements to Highway 610 and Highway 10, will be completed years sooner as a result of the new funding. Reconstruction of the dangerous Devil's Triangle intersection will begin this July as a result of the bill.
The legislature balanced Minnesota's budget while protecting Minnesota's colleges and universities from the deep cuts proposed by the Governor and the tuition hikes that would have resulted if his budget had been enacted. In addition, the Legislature fought for and achieved needed K-12 funding. Hortman said the $51 in additional per-pupil funding will help local districts to retain more teachers and make fewer cuts.
"Providing a high quality education to the children in Minnesota is our highest priority," said Hortman. "I am glad we balanced our budget this year responsibly while maintaining our commitment to our children."
Hortman supported the health care reform bill that will provide health coverage to 12,000 previously uninsured Minnesotans and sets an affordability scale so no Minnesotan pays more than 8.8% of their income on health care premiums. Along with health care reform, the legislature passed a property tax relief bill that delivers permanent property tax relief to most Minnesotans. The bill provides $60 million in local property tax relief to cities and counties and included inflationary increases to help local cities and counties keep property taxes down in coming years. The bill also expands direct property tax relief to homeowners who qualify for direct property tax refunds with a $25 million infusion into the program.
"Property tax relief has been elusive over the past few years because we weren’t able to reach bipartisan agreement," said Hortman. "I am glad we were able to reach agreement on both sides of the aisle to deliver property tax relief to Minnesotans."
Rep. Hortman is available to discuss and comment on the end of the 2008 legislative session if you have any questions. Please contact me if you are interested in discussing this legislation with her.