Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Sunday night, the Legislature adjourned. House Republicans have worked hard all session long to address the priorities of Minnesota families, and that work is reflected in the bills we put on the governor's desk. We successfully addressed countless concerns and objections raised by the governor throughout the process, and know that this represents a good-faith effort to send him bills that can earn his signature. Bills we passed include a compromise tax conformity and education funding bill, a bonding bill, a supplemental budget bill and a pensions bill.
First, after historic tax reform was passed by Congress last year, it was critical that we advanced a federal tax conformity bill this session, simplifying our tax code and preventing undue hassles and headaches for filers next year. The bill we put on the governor’s desk protects taxpayers and provides the first income tax cut in nearly two decades. In total, 99.8 percent of Minnesotans would see tax reductions or be held harmless by the changes in tax year 2018.
And while tax relief was one of our top priorities, Governor Dayton expressed he would not sign a tax bill without education funding to help schools facing budget shortfalls. That’s why in a good-faith effort to compromise, we also included in the tax bill measures to put more money in every classroom.
Our bill makes available more than $225 million to help students—almost $100 million more than what Governor Dayton had asked for, providing new money as well as additional flexibility and resources for school districts. A one-time payment of $50 million from the budget reserves delivers an increase to every Minnesota school district on a per pupil basis in Fiscal Year 2019. It also temporarily suspends requirements that schools set aside two percent of the basic aid formula for staff development for one year—freeing up as much as $125 million for staff retention, and for schools with positive reserves in their Community Education Fund Balances, the plan would authorize a one-time transfer to school General Funds to help cover budget shortfalls, providing up to $52 million in additional dollars.
What’s more, with school safety as a top priority for both House Republicans and Governor Dayton, we advanced a school safety package that provides dollars, resources and flexibility for our schools to help keep kids safe and address student mental health. Our total school safety investment is more than $50 million—double what the governor proposed. Whether it’s building and facility upgrades or hiring more student counselors, our multifaceted approach helps students and schools statewide.
Next, our supplemental bill included significant compromise with the governor, as we advanced initiatives important to Minnesotans. In addition to school safety, the bill provides funding to repair roads and bridges, initiatives to tackle our state's opioid epidemic, reforms to protect aging and vulnerable adults, policies to help keep drivers safe on the road, and measures critical to caregivers who care for disabled Minnesotans.
Finally, the bonding bill we passed on Sunday is infrastructure-heavy, as we focused on roads and bridges, water infrastructure and state-wide asset preservation. Notably, the bill includes $13.5 million for the Brockton Interchange in Dayton—a critical transportation need that I have been championing for years. The bonding bill also includes $32 million for the construction of new veterans homes in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston, as well as $10 million for the renovation of existing homes.
In closing, the bills we passed this session not only represent significant bipartisan compromise, but also champion the shared priorities of citizens, families, taxpayers and schools statewide. I am very hopeful that Governor Dayton will sign these bills into law and do right by the people of Minnesota.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the last Peppin’s MinnTriv. The question was: This Minnesota mall, opened in 1956, was the first fully enclosed, climate-controlled shopping mall in the world. The answer was Southdale Center in Edina.
Congratulations to Steven Stensrud from Corcoran who is last week’s winner!
Here is this week’s question:
How many lakes in Minnesota are named Mud Lake?
The FIRST correct respondent will be featured in my next email update.
In order to best represent our communities, I need to hear from you, so please don’t hesitate to contact my office at any time. My direct line is 651-296-7806. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my mailing address is Room 459 State Office Building, 100 Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55155.
Have a wonderful weekend.
**Encourage your neighbors and friends to sign up for my email updates at www.house.mn/34A