As I indicated in my last update, here are more details on the state budget that is awaiting Gov. Walz’s signature:
The K-12 education per student formula is increased by 2 percent in each of the next two years and included $90 million in funding to help cover the rising costs of special education. An attempt to derail the recent teacher licensure reforms was turned back and an effort to inject mandatory Planned Parenthood designed sex education into the elementary school curriculum was also stopped.
On the environmental front, aquatic invasive species funding will be bolstered with an increase in the boat registration fee to $10.60 over several years. Additional funding is also provided for chronic wasting disease to both the DNR for white tail deer management and the Board of Animal Health for farmed deer management.
An attempt to prohibit the DNR from allowing a wolf hunting season should the federal government delist the wolves was stopped. An effort to allow two poles for fishing during the open water season also fell by the wayside.
Transportation is funded at $6.1 billion, which includes a $200 million increase over the last biennium’s spending. The increase in transportation spending was accomplished without instituting the governor’s 20 cent per gallon gas tax hike. The statutorily dedicated transportation funding from sales tax revenue collected on auto repairs was maintained, despite an effort to take those dedicated transportation dollars and spend them elsewhere.
The income tax rate for couples earning between $37,850-$150,380 and singles earning between $37,850-$85,060 was reduced from 7.05% to 6.5%. One area of disappointment was the 2% tax on health care services was not allowed to expire, rather it is renewed at 1.8%. That will add about $2.3 billion to the cost of medical services for Minnesotans over the next four years. I remain opposed to taxing healthcare services. Programs currently funded by that revenue source should be funded from the general fund, not people battling cancer or living with diabetes.
Of special interest to our area, the budget will include $40 million in funding to continue expanding broadband in rural Minnesota through the Minnesota Office of Broadband.
That was another quick look at some of the major state budget items that are before the governor.