In a special session that adjourned early Saturday morning, the Minnesota Legislature passed the remaining bills to fund state government, agencies, and consumer services for the next two years. In total, the legislature passed eleven budget bills; each bill awaits action by Governor Tim Walz.
“After a one-day special session, we came to an agreement with the House and the governor on a budget compromise that meets the needs of Minnesotans. While we remain on an unsustainable spending path, that is the realty of compromise in the only divided legislature in the nation,” said Senator Andrew Lang (R-Olivia). “We made big investments in education, transportation, and health care without asking the taxpayers for additional revenue. That is good news.”
Minnesotans will see the first middle class income tax cut in nearly two decades, bringing the second-tier income tax bracket down from 7.05% to 6.8%. Minnesota tax laws will also conform to the federal tax code, easing the extra steps required for tax filing. Public schools will receive a per-pupil funding increase of two percent in each of the next two years – a major investment that amounts to an increase of nearly $450,000 for New London-Spicer Schools and $1.1 million for Willmar Public Schools. The legislature also approved $90 million to help cover the rising costs of special education and provides districts with funding for safety enhancements.
Billions will be invested in Minnesota’s transportation infrastructure – without raising the gas tax, vehicle sales tax, or license plate tab fees. Compared to the previous budget, an additional $275 million will be appropriated for statewide road construction, delivery, and maintenance. The departments of transportation and public safety will be audited next year to ensure accountability and transparency within state agencies and a long-term fix for the fatally-flawed MNLARS program will begin development was also funded.
Health and human services, the largest area of the state budget, will spend more than $15 billion over the next two years on health care and social services. The budget includes new prescription drug transparency requirements, an insulin program for individuals in need, and funding for mental health services. Landmark protections for elderly and vulnerable Minnesotans will go into effect next year, including the explicit right of senior care facility residents to place cameras in their rooms and funding for more agency staff to assist with questions or complaints. In addition, the successful health insurance premium security program will remain in place – a proven method for lowering health insurance rates for families, farmers, and small businesses.
Finally, the legislature passed an additional $40 million for rural broadband expansion, more funding to protect the state against cybersecurity threats, additional funding for dozens of new corrections officers, and an investment in workforce training programs and technical education programs. In addition to passing legislation aimed at making college textbooks more affordable, the legislature expanded the state grant program and capped in-state tuition at most public colleges and universities in Minnesota.
“We came together in the end to pass critical funding for so many areas and programs – and the end result is a compromise that will make our state better. I’m looking forward to the governor signing this budget into law,” said Senator Lang.
Senator Andrew Lang, of Olivia, represents communities in Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, and Swift counties in the Minnesota Senate.