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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL)

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Legislative Update- May 1, 2019

Wednesday, May 01, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
 
The House passed its final budget bills 24 hours ahead of our deadline and before the Senate took up most of its major bills. I’m proud we’ve advanced a balanced budget with no increase on individual tax income rates and have delivered several forms of local government aid to bring down property taxes.
 
Here’s an update on a few key highlights from our budget:
 

Taxes

The House Taxes plan was also approved last week. Half of the revenue raised in the bill comes from bringing back to Minnesota multinational corporations’ sheltered tax haven dollars from places like the Cayman Islands. Our seniors and small businesses shouldn’t have to pay more to make up for the lost dollars that belong in Minnesota. Tax filing is also simplified for families through tax conformity and by raising the standard deduction. Over half of social security filers won’t pay anything on their benefits. 96% of the bill framework originated from House Republicans’ tax plan last year, so I’m pleased with the fair balance struck that puts families, seniors, and small businesses first. You can learn more here.
 

Education

The Education budget was the first bill the House passed after returning from our Easter/Passover recess. Significant components include: an increase to the per-pupil formula by 3% in the 2020 and another 2% in 2021; more support staff for students to address mental health in our schools; protected access to voluntary Pre-K for over 4,000 students; and expanded opportunities to earn college credits and develop skills through career and technical education programs. Over the two years, Bloomington schools would receive an additional $9.9 million, Edina schools an extra $6.5 million and the Hopkins School District (covering the Minnetonka and Eden Prairie portions of my district) an additional $6.3 million that would not have to be covered by local property taxpayers.
 

Transportation

Our transportation budget passed in the House this week. Under current law, 40% of state gas tax revenue goes to state aid for county and city roads. Under our transportation funding package, Hennepin County would receive almost $18 million in new gas tax revenue for their roads, every year, while Bloomington would receive $1.7 million, Eden Prairie $1.1 million, Edina $942 thousand and Minnetonka $964 thousand, providing yet another form of property tax relief.
 

Public Safety

This week, the House approved the two-year Public Safety budget. The bill includes funding for corrections, the courts, criminal apprehension, human rights protections and many other areas, along with investments in a safer, more just Minnesota. The budget includes criminal background checks to be performed prior to all gun sales and provides for Extreme Risk Protection Orders, allowing law enforcement to restrict access to firearms if a court determines a person may be a threat to themselves or others. A fact sheet about steps other states have taken to address gun violence is available here.

Health and Human Services

On Thursday last week, the House approved with my support the Health and Human Services budget, which makes prescription drugs more affordable and expands coverage options. To address high premiums, Minnesotans who purchase their health insurance through a private plan on the individual market would receive a 20 percent direct premium discount in this budget. You can read more specific components of the budget here.
 

Ranked Choice Voting

Yesterday, I participated in a press conference with my colleague Representative Bahner and Senator Eken to support ranked choice voting at the local level. We advocated for a more inclusive, civil and participatory democracy. I’m pleased to share that this measure was included in the state government finance omnibus bill, which was approved last evening.

Keep in Touch

The Senate continues to work on their major budget components, much of which contain vast differences from House positions. Conference committees will begin to meet to reconcile these differences to find a compromise.
 
Your input is crucial as we begin negotiations with the Senate. Please reach out anytime with feedback or questions.
 
Thank you.
 
Sincerely,

Steve Elkins
State Representative
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