State investments strengthen communitiesPublished 5:43am Sunday, March 24, 2013
Column: Capitol Conversations, by Shannon Savick
This week was an exciting time because the House of Representatives introduced its budget targets. These are basically used as a framework for how we move forward with budget bills this session, and there were a lot of positives for our district.
First, there is a $46 million increase to the jobs and economic development budget compared to last session. I’m happy to see our Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce making jobs a top priority because our communities are still working out of the recession.
I’m even happier to say that $30 million of that budget is likely to come in form of my bill for the Minnesota Investment Fund. It’s a program that gives funds to local communities so they can provide grants and loans to businesses in their area to encourage job growth and economic activity. The Minnesota Investment Fund has a proven track record of bringing in tax dollars that help pay for the original loans and grants given to local companies. This helps sustain the program and provide funds for even more economic development. I think it will bring a lot of living wage jobs to the state and to our district.
I also wanted to touch on education and local government aid. There have been cuts after cuts for the past decade to our schools and local communities. In the House’s budget targets, we’ll see an increase in education funding of $700 million and an increase in local government aid and other local programs of $250 million.
Each of these will help schools, cities and counties provide great services for our communities. But it also will take away much of the need for local units to increase their local levies. This should mean lower property taxes across our district and more funds for our communities to work with.
There are numerous other budget areas that will see increases, including agriculture, public safety, housing and other critical areas.
Health and human services, however, is scheduled to see a large decline in state funding. This is something I do not support, and I will be fighting to ensure we give our nursing home and hospital employees and the disabled the funding they need. These workers provide a crucial service to our state, and I do not support any kind of significant reduction in their funding.
So there are some things that may need to be changed in this budget outline, but I think overall it is a positive step for the state and for our district.
The investments we are making in the House will help strengthen our local economies by giving businesses the tools they need to create jobs and by educating our children and creating a world class workforce right here in Minnesota. More details will be available as soon as committees start working on their budget bills, and I will continue to update you as new information is available.
Shannon Savick, DFL-Wells, is the state representative for House District 27A.