In a special legislative session that concluded early Friday morning, the Senate passed the final portions of the state’s upcoming two-year budget. The budgets for tax relief, transportation, health and human services, state government, and K-12 education now go to the governor, who has indicated he will sign them into law.
“I am very pleased to have supported a complete budget that represents a true compromise and benefits all Minnesotans,” said Sen. Andrew Lang (R-Olivia). “We passed the first real tax relief package in nearly 20 years, a large investment in our roads and bridges, education funding, and budgets for other areas of our government, ensuring our state will remain a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”
In addition to the budget bills, the Senate also passed a robust bonding bill, relying on the issuance of state bonds to pay for critical infrastructure upgrades across Minnesota. The bill includes provisions for the Child and Adolescent Behavior Health Services program in Willmar, the Glacial Lakes Trail, Pioneer Public Television, a roadway in Appleton, and the Willmar WYE.
The education budget couples $1.3 billion in new K-12 funding over the next two years with reforms that prioritize the needs of students, teachers, and schools. The bill includes a 2% increase to the per pupil formula allowance each year, increasing the formula by $310 per pupil compared to current law – giving school districts more flexibility in meeting the needs of their students. It also overhauls Minnesota’s teacher licensure system and the “last in, first out” teacher seniority law. Finally, the bill contains funding for agricultural and career and technical education in rural school districts.
A $650 million tax relief package provides the first meaningful tax cuts in nearly two decades. A phase-out on seniors’ Social Security income taxes, tax relief for recent college graduates paying off student loans, property tax relief for small businesses, and relief for farmers are all included in the package.
Finally, the transportation budget provides $300 million in new funding over the previous budget – without a gas tax or license tab fee increase. Thousands of lane miles and hundreds of bridges will be repaired or replaced under the budget. In addition, the transportation bill contains a provision that takes taxpayers off the hook for the $50 million tab of light rail operating costs – saving Greater Minnesotans the cost of subsidizing a light rail line despite not living anywhere near it.
“The people of west central Minnesota don’t care about the games or gimmicks that continue to infect our political process. They simply want results. Our budgets empower people, not government, and reward work, benefit families, and strengthen communities,” Sen. Lang continued. “The truly bipartisan language contained in the next budget biennium goes to show that we are working together to advance Minnesota.”
Sen. Lang is serving his first term representing Senate District 17, which includes communities in Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Renville, and Swift counties in west central Minnesota. Sen. Lang served on the conference committee for the omnibus agricultural finance bill.