Greetings as we near the Fourth of July holiday. Please have a safe and fun time as we celebrate this important national holiday.
This past Wednesday found me in Mound MN at a Legislative Aggregate Task Force Meeting. I was appointed to the eight-member task force by House Speaker Daudt. The meeting involved a general scoping of the issues we face with respect to the long term supply and use of construction aggregate here in Minnesota. Construction aggregate includes gravel, sand, limestone, granite, quartz, clay and other materials that we commonly use to construct roads, bridges and buildings.
The role of the task force is to study and provide recommendations on the Department of Natural Resources' aggregate resource mapping progress and the effectiveness of current aggregate related regulations. The task force will be meeting several times before the next legislative session in February of 2018. If changes are deemed appropriate they can then be dealt with in that session.
A number of new laws take effect on July 1, including our next two-year state budget. The K-12 education budget will be set at $18.75 billion, a $1.3 billion increase over the past 2 year budget. At Aitkin, that amounts to approximately $549,202 in new funding. Crosby-Ironton ($474,688) and at McGregor ($264,372) are other local examples of increases.
We will see a $210 million increase in the higher education budget. Students at two-year colleges and four-year universities Minnesota State schools will see a tuition freeze in the 2018-19 school year.
While tax changes do not specifically take effect July 1, the 2017 tax bill delivers $650 million in tax relief to Minnesota families over the next two years. The following are in effect for this tax calendar year 2017 (for filings made in 2018).
We are making progress on dealing with the governor’s attempt to defund the legislative branch of government. This week the court approved a stipulation by the parties that allows funding of the legislature for the next 90 days, pending a final ruling by the court on the constitutionality of the governor’s action.