Investments are a priority at the CapitolPublished 3:34pm Saturday, May 18, 2013
Shannon Savick, Capitol Comments
We’ve made it to the end of the session with a very strong budget in place for Minnesota. When we arrived in January, we knew that we wanted to make investments in areas that had been neglected for the better part of a decade. Education, property tax relief and jobs have all seen cuts after cuts for the past few years. Our budget addresses those needs and doesn’t rely on one-time gimmicks or borrowing.
As you may know, there is a $627 million budget deficit that was left over from the previous Legislature. We’re paying that back, as well as the $854 million owed to our schools over the next two years. On top of addressing these IOUs, we’ll be making investments in those areas that so badly need it.
Over $700 million will be invested in education, from early childhood to K-12 schools to colleges and universities. These investments will help fund early childhood scholarships and all-day kindergarten, freeze tuition at all state colleges and universities, and increase base funding for our local school districts after years of cuts.
A total of $400 million in property tax relief will come in the form of direct property tax relief for homeowners and renters, increased Local Government Aid for cities, and increased County Program Aid for counties. The LGA and County Aid formulas have also been simplified to make the process simpler and more efficient. These investments, along with increased funds for schools, should greatly lessen the need for local property tax levies.
This session, we are bringing investments from $27 million all the way up to $97 million. This after seeing jobs funding cut in half last session. These dollars will help local cities bring in new businesses that can add jobs in our communities by offering grants and loans for new jobs. Other dollars will help Minnesota set up trade relationships across the globe so we can sell our goods more easily. We’ll also be funding workforce training programs to help those who are unemployed find work that pays a living wage.
In our budget, those making more than $250,000 a year, will see a slight increase in their income taxes. But we will not be taxing clothing. We will not be taxing services like oil changes or haircuts. The wealthiest Minnesotans are going to be asked to pay their fair share. And on top of the property tax relief, we’re providing $346 million in tax cuts for Minnesota businesses to help make Minnesota more competitive.
This budget moves us past the days of borrowing and shifting to balance the books. It moves us past the kick-the-can-down-the-road mentality. Our budget this session is balanced. It makes investments in our schools, our communities, and our businesses. It’s a good move forward for our state and it’s a good move forward for our district.
Shannon Savick, DFL-Wells, is the state representative for House District 27A.