The 2018 Legislative Session has ended – and it ended with a bang. Over the weekend we passed a number of bipartisan bills that would benefit middle-class residents and central-Minnesota communities and sent them to Governor Dayton’s desk.
2018 PENSION REFORM AND STABILIZATION BILL RECEIVES UNANIMOUS SUPPORT
By a vote of 131-0, the Minnesota house approved my 2018 Pension Reform and Stabilization package. The goal of the bill is to ensure the future financial health of our state retirement programs, and we do this with minimal state investment combined with significant state reforms, such as reducing anticipated rates of return from 8-8.5% to 7.5% . As stated before, for every $1 invested, there is $3 in benefit savings. Overall, the benefit reforms save the pension systems more than $57 million in Fiscal Year 2019 and nearly $263 million in the Fiscal Year 2020/21 biennium. Needless to say, I’m extremely pleased with the unanimous support.
TAX CONFORMITY/EDUCATION FUNDING PLAN APPROVED
With good bipartisan support the Minnesota House approved a plan that not only provides tax relief but helps our classrooms. The tax conformity and education plan were part of a compromise effort between legislative Republicans and Governor Dayton.
The federal conformity plan protects taxpayers, simplifies Minnesota's tax code, and provides the first income tax rate cut in nearly 20 years. It also makes available more than $225 million to help students—nearly $100 million more than what the governor requested, provides new money and additional flexibility for school districts to address budget shortfalls.
You may recall that during my first year in the Minnesota House, school trust lands were one of my top priorities. State law requires that by July 1, 2018, the state compensate Minnesota schools for all designated school trust lands that prohibit long-term economic returns. To make good on that promise, $50 million would be provided from the budget reserves for a one-time payment, providing an increase to every Minnesota school district on a per pupil basis in Fiscal Year 2019.
SCHOOL SAFETY MEASURES APPROVED
One of our top priorities this year was improved school safety and student mental health. The bonding bill passed Sunday night brings the total school safety investment to more than $50 million—double the amount proposed by the governor.
These proposals are just a few of the weekend’s highlights. House leadership went to great lengths to address Governor Dayton’s concerns with our legislation, and in every case we made concessions to plans we preferred in hopes of convincing the governor to sign these bills into law. Governor Dayton has two weeks to make decisions on these legislative bills, and it’s my hope he acts on them favorably.
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