Sen. Mathews, colleagues pass comprehensive state budget

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 will likely 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 Mathews (R-Milaca). “We passed the first real tax relief in nearly 20 years, a large investment in roads and bridges, education funding, and budgets for other areas of our government, keeping our state a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”

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, 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.

Needed funding for infrastructure upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility in Clearwater is also included, coming in the bonding bill.

Finally, the transportation budget provides $300 million in new funding over the previous budget – without a gas tax or license tab fee increase. More than 8,800 miles of roadway and 200 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.

“Roads and bridges across Minnesota are crumbling. State agencies are imposing unnecessary and costly regulations on our communities. Our students, teachers, and schools deserve a robust funding package that prioritizes learning. The budgets we have passed address those issues and many more,” Sen. Mathews continued. “These bills will do a lot of good for our entire state.”

Sen. Mathews is in his first term representing Senate District 15, which includes communities in Benton, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, and Wright counties.