In mid-May, as you recall, the Legislature wrapped up the 2013-2014 session. Over the weeks since adjournment, I've been talking to residents of our district about the work we completed. I mailed my legislative report to everyone in our district, but the space limitations of a mailed piece prevent me from giving as much detail as I'd like on some of the important work we completed. Over the next few weeks, I’ll continue to “unpack the session.” The last update focused on education, this one focuses on jobs and the Women’s Economic Security Act.
Jobs and economic development
After passing a structurally balanced budget in 2013, we returned to the Capitol with a $1.2 billion budget surplus in 2014. Our economy had improved and, on paper, Minnesota had recovered all the jobs we lost during the recession. But the economic recovery wasn’t being felt by everyone. There were still people looking for work, families were still getting by with a little less, and there were still communities looking for ways to bring new jobs to their area.
That’s why the Legislature made investing in job creation a top priority. We invested $100 million on job creation efforts in 2013, and made a critical down payment on statewide broadband internet expansion. In 2013 and 2014 we passed Capitol Investment bills to provide funding for local infrastructure projects -- like community college buildings and local roads and bridges -- in communities across the state.
Investing in Job Creation
The 2013 Jobs Bill invested $54 million in the Minnesota Investment Fund and the Job Creation Fund to provide financial incentives which are used to recruit out-of-state companies to open businesses in Minnesota and to help existing Minnesota businesses to hire new employees.
Cutting Business Taxes
Last year, the Legislature enacted the largest business tax cut in state history, reducing taxes by $350 million for Minnesota businesses by lowering Unemployment Insurance payments.
Investing in Job Training
We invested in customized job training and workforce development programs like FastTRAC and Twin Cities Rise. These programs are set up to give workers the training they need to get back to work. Through partnerships with local Minnesota State College and University campuses and organizations, these training programs are customized to meet the needs of the businesses in their areas.
Investing in our Infrastructure
It is estimated that the Capitol Investment bills will create more than 30,000 jobs statewide -- putting people to work building and repairing roads, bridges, and schools in communities across Minnesota.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
The Legislature took another step toward gender equality in the workplace when it passed the Women’s Economic Security Act, or “WESA.” WESA included provisions on pay equity, accommodations for working pregnant women, the right to take longer unpaid leave when children join our families, and the right to use our earned sick time to care for family members, in addition to ourselves.
I’m pleased that the Legislature was able to make investments in proven job creation programs and that we took another step forward on gender equity in the workplace.
If you have any questions about the 2013-2014 legislative session, please do not hesitate to contact me. In the next few weeks I will continue to “unpack the session” in additional e-updates. Thanks for keeping in touch.