Three-way budget targets still critical to timely session finish, leaders emphasize
House and Senate Republican leaders today pointed out many of Governor Dayton’s major priorities have been included in the legislature’s budget bills, including over 536 policy sections requested by Governor Dayton’s agencies. In an effort to increase transparency and receive more public input on bills, Republican majorities in the House and Senate met four early deadlines and succeeded in starting budget discussions a month earlier than usual:
- March 31 deadline for bills to be passed out of finance committees
- April 8 deadline for bills to be passed out of each chamber
- April 28 deadline to agree to 2-way joint budget targets
- May 1 deadline to agree on language for budget bills
“Recent conversations with the governor have brought us closer to agreement on several bills – an encouraging sign. Governor Dayton has also agreed to work with Republican leaders over the weekend to decide on 3-way budget targets, which is the next critical step toward getting our work done on time this session,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.
“We are committed to getting our work done and encourage the governor to join us in that effort. Our Legislative priorities — tax relief, fixing our roads and bridges, and lowering health care costs — are reflected in our budget, but we also took into consideration the governor’s finance and numerous policy requests,” said Speaker Kurt Daudt.
Republicans listed five reasons Governor Dayton should sign each budget bill. The governor’s requests are underlined below.
- Invests in Roads & Bridges. $5.35 billion in increased funding to fix our roads and bridges—without a harmful gas tax increase! Infusing much needed resources for our state highways, county roads, city streets and township roads, the bill also provides significant resources for small cities that currently do not receive constitutionally-dedicated transportation revenues.
- Relieves Congestion. Drivers will spend less time in traffic due $350 million in new funding for the Corridors of Commerce Program, which focuses on adding lane capacity and congestion relief along our state’s busiest highways.
- Builds Safer Bridges & Rail Crossings. Drivers will travel safely with more than $25 million for the local bridge replacement program, improvements to rail safety, and critical safety upgrades at some of the most dangerous rail crossings across the state.
- Establishes Fair & Transparent Construction Process. A reformed, transparent process will ensure each road construction project is scored and ranked so everyone can see where their local projects stand in comparison to other projects statewide—fixing key issues identified by the Office of the Legislative Auditor.
- Restores Funding to Bus Transit. Ensuring continued bus service in the Metro area thanks to increased funding for cost-effective transit options.
- Invests in our schools. Minnesota schools will see more than $1.1 billion in increased funding to ensure that every child in Minnesota has access to a great education.
- Places More Dollars in the Classroom. Focusing the vast majority of new funding on the per-pupil formula will ensure education resources are put where they’re most effective—in the classroom helping students and teachers.
- Commits to Early Education. Our littlest learners are prioritized thanks to more than $300 million in early education funding—including flexible funding for all schools with Pre-K programming.
- Tackles the Teacher Shortage. Key reforms and innovative grant programs will help schools retain the best teachers and address teacher shortages in Greater Minnesota by recruiting the next generation of educators.
- Keeps Kids Safe. Testing for lead in schools will ensure Minnesota kids have clean drinking water.
- Puts Money in Seniors’ Pockets. Reducing state taxes on Social Security will mean a raise for thousands of Minnesota senior citizens.
- Reduces the Tax Burden for Farmers. Property tax relief for farmers though a new School Building Bond Agricultural Credit makes referendums fairer and reduces taxes for those who put food on our table.
- Makes College Affordable. A first-in-the-nation tax credit for student loan debt and new tax incentives for families saving for college will help lower the cost of higher education for Minnesota families.
- Reinvests in Hometown Businesses. Eliminating an unfair and automatic tax increase and providing relief from the extra property taxes paid by businesses of all sizes will make Minnesota a better place to grow jobs across the state.
- Reduces the Cost of Childcare. The Dependent Care Credit will put more money in the pockets of families with young children, helping to lower the increasing cost of childcare.
Jobs & Energy
- Innovates Job Creation Efforts. Prioritizing public-private partnerships will help grow better-paying jobs and improve the economy in all corners of Minnesota.
- Leverages State Dollars to Grow Jobs. Increasing funding for the Minnesota Investment Fund and the Job Creation Fund leverages public dollars to grow good-paying jobs across the state.
- Expands Access to Broadband Internet. Continues Minnesota’s efforts to expand broadband access to rural areas thanks to $15 million in new broadband grant funding.
- Focuses on Workforce Training. Workforce training initiatives across the state, from Greater Minnesota to the Twin Cities, will help Minnesotans develop skills to fill good-paying job openings.
- Develops our Future Workforce. Increased funding for the PIPELINE and the Youth Skills Training Program will help train the next generation of Minnesota’s workforce.
Environment & Natural Resources
- Protects Our Outdoors. Minnesota has world-class outdoor recreation activities and tourist destinations. Right-sizing user fees for our state parks will ensure they are maintained and preserved for Minnesotans and visitors.
- Improves the Regulatory Process. Technology upgrades for the Pollution Control Agency and a more transparent and streamlined environmental review process will ensure Minnesota moves at the speed of business, making it easier to attract and grow good-paying jobs.
- Defends State Waters. Funding for Conservation Easement Stewardship permanently restores wetlands and wildlife habitats, and reduces soil erosion which will improve water quality across the state.
- Clarifies the Buffer Law. Respecting and responding to feedback from constituents and farmers at meetings held across Greater Minnesota by working to improve the buffer law passed in 2015 and ensure it works for landowners in all parts of Minnesota.
- Stands with Sportsmen & Sportswomen. Recognizing our constitutional right to fishing and hunting, we enable hunters to wear blaze pink and utilize scopes for muzzleloaders, and we help to protect our game and fish populations for future generations by cracking down on poachers and limit violations.
Health and Human Services
- Protects Minnesota Seniors. Prioritizes the safety of our most vulnerable with increased investigations of elderly abuse complaints by the Office of Health Facilities Complaints.
- Supports our Healthcare Workers. Those who care for our most vulnerable citizens will see a 110% rate increase and expanded access through a scholarship program to help recruit and retain quality staff, and address a shortage of healthcare workers.
- Fights the Opioid Epidemic. New prescription limits, and grants for prevention and treatment of opioid addiction will save lives and fight back against the rising opioid abuse epidemic.
- Improves Mental Health Treatments. Reforms and grants for a variety mental health services will improve Minnesota’s treatment for those struggling with mental health challenges.
- Reduces Waste, Fraud, and Abuse. Common-sense eligibility checks will prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in our public programs, saving taxpayers millions each year.
- Creates Efficient & Effective Government. Manageable reductions and increased reporting requirements will reduce the cost of state government for taxpayers and make it more accountable to the people it serves.
- Prioritizes Our Veterans. Keeping our promise to National Guard members by enhancing educational and job training opportunities and moving the state forward on approvals for new veterans’ homes in Greater Minnesota.
- Modernizes Election Equipment. Matching grants will reduce the costs of voting equipment upgrades for local governments and improve the integrity of Minnesota’s election system.
- Increases Oversight of Rulemaking. State agencies should not have unilateral power to impose costly and burdensome rules without approval from the legislature. New legislative oversight of expensive rule proposals make state agencies more accountable to Minnesotans.
- Ends Taxpayer Funding of Political Campaigns. Minnesota’s current system allows tax dollars to be funneled to partisan political machines. It’s time to end Minnesota’s wasteful welfare for politicians.
- Freezes & Reduces Tuition. Students at two-year colleges will benefit from a tuition freeze next year and a 1 percent tuition decrease the following year. Students at four-year universities will see a tuition freeze next year.
- Assists Low-Income Students. Students with financial need at the U of M, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and private colleges will benefit from $18.5 million in new funding for the Minnesota State Grant program.
- Provides Educational Resources for Family Doctors. Family medicine doctors will receive significant support through an investment of $14 million for Health Training Restoration at the University of Minnesota.
- Invests in Brain Injury Research. Those impacted by brain injuries will benefit from $6 million for the Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program – even more than Gov. Dayton asked for in his budget.
- Fights Cancer through Research. Cancer patients will benefit from $2 million toward cancer research and increased availability of clinical trials across the state as a part of the MnDRIVE initiative.
Public Safety & Judiciary
- Offers Cost-Saving Drug Treatment Options. Grant funding gives communities expanded treatment options as an alternative to incarceration when technical violations of conditions of supervision occur, a course that is more effective and less costly.
- Reduces Legal Costs for Minnesotans. Reducing fees on civil filings and motions helps make our legal system more accessible and affordable for Minnesotans of all income levels.
- Supports Law Enforcement. Respecting our police men and women by giving them resources for training programs and creating penalties for those who impersonate an officer and tamper with public safety vehicles.
- Keeps Our Neighborhoods Safe. Combatting sex trafficking and terrorism recruitment will mean safer communities across the state.
- Provides New Judicial Funding. Two new district court judgeships will help ease caseloads in the 7th and 9th Judicial Districts.
- Supports Pollinator Research. Funding for pollinator research at the University of Minnesota will help us better understand this important aspect of our agricultural economy.
- Expands Markets for Farmers. New opportunities provided by livestock investment grants, value-added agriculture grants, biofuels infrastructure, and new market development funding in the AGRI program will help Minnesota’s farm community continue to thrive.
- Battles Noxious Weeds. Local community grants will help fight noxious weeds, including Palmer amaranth, that threaten our agriculture industry.
- Fights Plant Pathogens. Funding for rapid detection, control and management of high priority plant pathogens will prevent the spread of diseased plants.
- Reduces Burdensome Regulations. Prohibiting the “verification of need” before pesticide usage gives farmers flexibility they need to protect their land and crop yields.