Poppe: House budget designed to boost middle classPublished 10:57am Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Last week, the Minnesota House of Representatives finalized a comprehensive budget. It includes all the major fiscal bills for areas like K-12 education, higher education, taxes, health and human services, transportation, public safety, state government and veterans, environment, natural resources and agriculture, housing, commerce, and jobs.
It’s a plan that addresses long-neglected needs in priorities like education by making investments that pave the road to long-lasting, shared economic prosperity throughout Minnesota.
Most importantly, our plan clearly outlines how we pay for those investments. We do not rely on the gimmicks or shifts that left our state with perpetual deficits over the past ten years.
Here is a quick look at some of the major components in the House budget.
The House budget makes historic investments in education at every level while keeping our promise to voters to pay back the remaining $854 million school shift, which resulted from a GOP-controlled legislature’s decision to enact record borrowing from our schools in 2011.
We aim to build the world’s best workforce by fully funding all-day Kindergarten, providing early learning scholarships, and increasing funding for K-12 schools by $315 million. Over the next two years, Austin Public Schools will see a $671 per pupil funding increase.
Lastly, the House budget freezes tuition for students at Minnesota’s public colleges and universities after a decade of skyrocketing tuition rates. As an educator and counselor at Riverland Community College, I’m pleased to see we’re taking serious steps to provide relief for students.
The House budget invests in proven strategies to create good jobs, such as the Minnesota Investment Fund, which provides incentives such as low-interest loans to out-of-state businesses thinking of setting up shop in Minnesota as well as in-state businesses thinking of expanding. According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development, MIF leverages up to $33 in private investment for every $1 awarded.
Over the past decade, property taxes increased by 86 percent due to cuts to Local Government Aid. The burden fell on middle class families, which meant less money in people’s pockets to save for retirement, send their kids to college, or buy groceries and other goods from local businesses.
The House budget fixes that problem by providing direct property tax relief through restoring the Homestead Credit Refund and a retooled renters’ credit. 380,000 homeowners and renters will see their refunds increase and 200,000 additional homeowners will receive a refund thanks to this plan. Mower County homeowners will see their refunds increase by an average of $139.
In addition, the House budget provides significant Local Government Aid and County Program Aid reform to ensure our cities and towns can continue providing high-quality services like police officers and firefighters that Minnesotans depend on every day. This plan provides an increase of over $1 million in LGA for the city of Austin and a nearly $300,000 increase in CPA for Mower County.
Environment, natural resources and agriculture:
Minnesota’s farmers, ranchers, livestock producers, and agri-businesses depend on reliable supplies of water. The House budget gives us the tools to address shrinking water supplies in rural Minnesota so we can solve this problem before it’s too late.
It also invests an additional $1.7 million in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and supports the growth of emerging biofuels while protecting the investments we’ve made in the ethanol industry. Doing so will encourage more companies to consider making investments in Minnesota, building on the strong ethanol foundation already in place and driving economic growth and jobs for middle class families in rural Minnesota.
Now that the House passed major finance bills that make up our budget, it will go to conference committee. Differences between the House and Senate versions will be ironed out before a final package heads to Governor Dayton’s desk.
If you have any questions about the budget process of the components of the House budget, please contact me by phone at 651-296-4194, by email at email@example.com, or by postal mail at 487 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.