St. Paul- House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown), Majority Leader Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) and House Ways and Means Chairman Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud) announced targets for budget adjustments Thursday with a continued focus on keeping government spending in line with family budgets. With state government fully funded from last year’s two year budget, House Republicans are proposing no net increase in spending in the supplemental finance bills.
“House Republicans will focus on what matters for middle-class Minnesotans including tax relief for families and fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. Today’s budget adjustments respect taxpayers and allow us to dedicate the surplus to those priorities,” Speaker Daudt said.
The transportation and tax relief bills currently remain in conference committees. The Republican transportation plan spends $7 billion on roads and bridges over the next 10 years without an increase in the gas tax and would repair or replace more than 15,500 lane miles of road and 330 bridges statewide. Proposals in the Republican tax relief bill include phasing-out the tax on social security benefits and military pay, tax credits for families saving for college and students paying off their loans, expanded deductions for families with school-aged children, and property tax relief for farmers and small businesses.
“Minnesotans have indicated they'd rather see more money back in their pockets through middle class tax relief rather than new government spending," added Majority Leader Peppin. "While Governor Dayton and Democrats seek to grow government, our focus will be on growing family budgets through targeted middle class tax relief."
Among the adjustments, House Republicans are proposing additional funding of $35 million for broadband in rural Minnesota. This would bring total broadband funding to $45.5 million passed this biennium, more than double the investment made in 2013-14.
"Our budget targets make key investments in priorities like broadband while identifying savings in other areas," added Chairman Knoblach. "We have shown Minnesotans we can reprioritize existing funding, just like a family budget, instead of simply increasing spending."
Budget adjustments (as compared to currently scheduled spending):
Funds left unused during the 2015 bird flu outbreak will be saved and repurposed for lab equipment for livestock disease prevention efforts.
Capital Investment ($3,140,000)
Enables a $600 million General Obligation (GO) bonding package, in addition to the $180 million in GO bonds allocated in 2015.
K-12 Education: 0 change
Approximately $50 million of additional K-12 spending offset by allowing school districts the option of early state loan repayment (a reform requested by schools), $7 million of those savings will go toward expanding broadband internet access for schools and students in underserved areas of the state.
Funding for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to uphold decisions regarding copper and nickel mining by Polymet in Northeastern Minnesota.
Health and Human Services: 0 change
Committee will repurpose federal grants for different priorities.
Higher Education: 0 change
Jobs and Energy: $11,665,000
Including $13 million in 2017 and $15 million in 2018 toward Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program offset by savings to be determined by the committee.
Public Safety: ($1,000,000)
Recouping extra funds from MINNCOR enterprise fund.
State Government Finance: ($9,500,000)
Efficiencies to be determined by the committee.
The House plans to adopt these budget targets in Ways and Means Committee on Thursday evening.