Last week, the Minnesota House of Representatives finalized a fair, honest budget.
Our budget is balanced without gimmicks or shifts while making the kinds of investments in priorities like jobs, education, and property tax relief that put Minnesota on the path to a prosperous economic future. We achieved this through a combination of targeted cuts that protect the most vulnerable Minnesotans and by making sure the wealthiest Minnesotans pay their fair share of taxes.
Starting this week, lawmakers from the House and Senate will iron out the differences between our budgets and produce a final product before it heads to Governor Dayton’s desk.
Here are a few highlights from the Minnesota House budget.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AID:
The House budget includes a significant increase in local government aid (LGA) and county program aid (CPA), which includes the largest LGA reform in a decade. The new LGA formula provides $110 million in need-based aid to cities and counties after years of cuts.
Thanks to this budget, communities in our district will be able to maintain the kind of high-quality services such as police officers and firefighters that Minnesotans depend on every day. By easing the financial pressure imposed on our cities over the past decade, we can avoid harsh measures like higher property taxes, which have increased by 86 percent since 2002.
Under current law, Oakdale would receive no LGA funds in 2013 or 2014, but under the House budget, Oakdale will receive over $106,000 in 2014 and over $125,000 in 2015.
Similar to Oakdale, Maplewood would receive no LGA funds in 2013 or 2014 under current law, but the budget we passed means the city will receive over $530,000 in 2014 and over $626,000 in 2015.
Lastly, the budget we passed means North St. Paul will receive over $115,000 in additional LGA funding in 2014.
One of my top priorities is making sure every child can receive a high-quality education.
I’m proud to report that the House budget makes historic investments in education at every level, from early childhood to K-12 to post-secondary.
Our budget is designed to create the world’s best workforce by closing Minnesota’s achievement gap, reaching a 100 percent high school graduation rate, 100 percent literacy by third grade, and 100 percent career and college readiness by graduation.
In order to meet those goals, we fully fund all-day, every day kindergarten, invest in early learning childhood scholarships, and increase the basic funding formula for K-12 schools by over $315 million.
Under this plan, North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale public schools will receive $1,249,694 more in FY2014 and $4,965,536 more in FY2015.
This is an important investment that will give Minnesota an economic advantage for years to come. By creating a well-educated workforce, we’ll attract more businesses to set up shop in Minnesota and help our kids develop the skills and knowledge needed to secure jobs that pay good wages and provide for greater economic security.
IMPROVING SPECIAL TAX INCREMENT FINANCING (TIF) FOR OAKDALE:
For those not familiar, special tax increment financing (TIF) helps finance the upfront costs of real estate development such as land acquisition, site preparation, and public infrastructure. Those costs can be financed through TIF by using the increased property taxes generated by a new real estate development.
Certain areas in the city of Oakdale were approved to utilize TIF by the legislature in 2008. A bill I authored (HF 114) to improve the existing law was included in the final House budget. The changes in my bill ensure that our district can continue utilizing TIF to encourage more economic development.
In addition to the House budget, lawmakers are working to pass a bonding bill that would take advantage of historically low interest rates to make investments that create jobs.
One of the investments in the bonding proposal provides funds to complete renovations at the Tubman Center in Maplewood. I’m pleased this project is included in our proposal. By providing support for women, children and families struggling with relationship violence, substance abuse and mental health, the Tubman Center makes a positive difference in countless lives in our region.
NEXT STEPS FOR HOUSE BUDGET:
With a final budget passed by the House of Representatives, we’ll work together with Governor Dayton and members of the Senate to create a final budget that invests in our future and rejects the status quo of gimmicks and shifts seen over the past decade.
Please contact me with any questions as we enter the final weeks of the 2013 legislative session.
State Representative, District 43B