Last week, just days after passing tax cuts for more than one million Minnesotans, the House passed two priority bills that focused on providing an additional economic boost for communities in Greater Minnesota.
Minnesota’s economy grew 45,000 jobs last year. Those new jobs, combined with the balanced budget we passed in 2013 created a $1.2 billion budget surplus. The House has moved quickly to utilize about half of that surplus already, approving $443 million in tax cuts and directing $150 million to bolster the state’s budget reserve.
The bills passed last week build on that progress. The first was a supplemental budget bill that puts middle-class families, students, and seniors ahead of wealthy special interests. The bill provides $170 million in new funding for broadband Internet access and job creation, an additional $91 million for education, and $91 million more for home and community based health care workers. The 5 percent rate increase is targeted to improve wages for the workers who care for people with disabilities and those in long-term care other than nursing homes (nursing homes received a 5 percent increase last legislative session).
To help address our crumbling roads and bridges, the bill allocates $50 million to fix potholes in communities across Minnesota and further expand our corridors of commerce program to repair state highways.
The House also passed our second tax bill last week, another key component of the House budget plan. “Tax Bill 2” will include $103 million in additional tax cuts for homeowners, renters, farmers and small businesses. More than 90,000 family homestead farms will see an average of $460 in additional property tax relief. An additional 850,000 homeowners and renters will also see increases in their property tax refund.
To support the small businesses in our rural communities, the bill provides a property tax cut and sales tax reforms for businesses with a property value of less than $1.1 million.
Our priorities this session have been the families, farmers, and small businesses that drive our economy. Investing in our schools, our workers, and our infrastructure helps expand economic opportunity for all Minnesotans. We will continue to focus on those priorities as we address a minimum wage increase and further investments in infrastructure projects later this session.
The legislature is working at a breakneck pace, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or suggestions regarding pieces of legislation, please do not hesitate to contact me. I do appreciate hearing from you.
With best regards,