On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) and Senator Zach Duckworth (R-Lakeville) announced a package to direct the massive infusion of federal dollars to Minnesota through a series of targeted investments that will get the state moving forward beyond the pandemic.
“These one-time funds provide us with the chance to set Minnesotans on a path for long-lasting growth. By targeting our spending for maximum impact, we are setting Minnesotans up to rebuild their community connections, invest in their families, and help our businesses recover and grow.” Duckworth said. “Most importantly, these investments are being made without increasing taxes on Minnesotans who have already sacrificed so much in the last year.”
The bill language, authored by Duckworth and will be released next week, directs the portion of the American Rescue Plan dollars that were part of the “State Fiscal Relief Fund” and had greater flexibility in how it could be used by the state. The $2.57 billion allocation will provide targeted support to Minnesotans hardest hit by the pandemic and promote economic growth.
“The legislature has a constitutional duty to Minnesotans to oversee all state spending, even when it comes in the form of federal grants,” Gazelka said. “Gov. Walz should not be the sole decider in how to spend billions of dollars, and the Minnesota Senate has put together a comprehensive investment strategy that will make the best use of the one-time money to benefit the taxpayers who are funding it in the first place.”
Highlights will include:
- $600 million to restore the Unemployment Trust Fund balance to support workers forced to transition and find new work.
- $1.165 billion to targeted infrastructure projects to boost the economy and build out critical projects across the state like roads, bridges, and water infrastructure.
- $500 million for small business relief grants targeted to hard hit industries including entertainment venues, event centers, community event organizations, and other small businesses which have not already received funding.
- $100 million to cover special education costs that are currently being paid for with school general education funds. This will help ensure that all student instruction needs – both special and general education – are being met.
- $200 million to enhance the tourism industry in Minnesota, targeting the venues, attractions and hospitality businesses which were hardest hit by the pandemic.
Minnesota is receiving an additional $5.37 billion dollars directly targeted to local entities, schools, education, low-income utility and rental assistance, extending pandemic unemployment benefits, public health, and specialized child-care programs.