Bill prioritizes energy savings, workforce development, and significant reforms
On Monday, Senator Andrew Mathews (R-Milaca) joined his Minnesota State Senate colleagues in passing the comprehensive energy, jobs and economic growth, and commerce budget bill. The bill, which funds state agencies and encourages growth in a variety of sectors, passed the Senate with bipartisan support.
“The energy budget prioritizes Minnesota ratepayers, aiming to lower utility costs across the state,” said Senator Mathews, Vice-Chair of the Senate Energy and Utilities Committee. “Reducing the cost of energy puts more money in the wallets of working Minnesota families. We institute reforms that focus on efficiencies and the needs of our state regarding energy production and consumption.”
The energy budget bill invests millions in provisions related to Minnesota’s energy, public utilities, and telecommunications, prioritizing efficiencies and reforms that will save ratepayers money. In addition to creating a solar grant program for schools, the budget includes reforms to community solar gardens, making the program more competitive and cutting energy bills for Minnesotans. The bill includes provisions lifting the renewable energy standard cap on hydropower and the moratorium on nuclear energy plant construction, as well as funding for a study to determine the best methods for energy storage in the state. The budget also creates a revolving loan fund for electric vehicle charging stations at businesses and government agencies, which will be repaid through user-paid charging station fees. Moreover, additional funding for the Public Utilities Commission to manage increased rate case load and additional funding for the Commission on Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing is included in the legislation.
Additionally, the comprehensive budget bill makes a substantial investment in workforce development, skills training, employment disparities, and economic growth. The bill includes expanding funding for the Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which assists people with disabilities in overcoming barriers to accessing, maintaining, and returning to work. It also invests in a grant program to provide employment services for people with mental illness and prioritizes public-private partnerships that work to remove barriers to employment through job training and preparation, particularly in historically-underserved communities.
“This comprehensive legislation aims to create an economy in which all Minnesotans are able to participate,” added Senator Mathews. “We focus on training the next generation of our state’s workforce for the jobs of tomorrow, instead of growing bureaucracy in St. Paul.”