4/1/2013 12:00:00 PM Comments from the Minnesota House of Representatives
State budget targets are being identified
This week was an exciting time because the House introduced its budget targets. These are basically used as a framework for how we move forward with budget bills this session and there were a lot of positives for our district.
First, there is a $46 million increase to the jobs and economic development budget compared to last session. I'm happy to see our chamber making jobs a top priority because our communities are still working out of the recession. I'm even happier to say that $30 million of that budget is likely to come in form of my bill for the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF). It's a program that gives funds to local communities so they can provide grants and loans to businesses in their area to encourage job growth and economic activity. MIF has a proven track record of bringing in tax dollars that help pay for the original loans and grants given to local companies. This helps sustain the program and provide funds for even more economic development. I think it will bring a lot of living wage jobs to the state and to our district.
I also wanted to touch on education and local aid. There have been cuts after cuts for the past decade to our schools and local communities. In the House's budget targets, we'll see an increase in education funding of $700 million and an increase in Local Government Aid and other local programs of $250 million. Each of these will help schools, cities, and counties provide great services for our communities. But it also will take away much of the need for local units to increase their local levies. This should be lower property taxes across our district and more funds for our communities to work with.
There are numerous other budget areas that will see increases, including agriculture, public safety, housing, and other critical areas. Health and Human Services however is scheduled to see a large decline in state funding. This is something I do not support and I will be fighting to ensure we give our nursing home and hospital employees and the disabled the funding they need. These workers provide a crucial service to our state and I do not support any kind of significant reduction in their funding.
So there are some things that may need to be changed in this budget outline but I think overall it is a positive step for the state and for our district. The investments we are making in the House will help strengthen our local economies by giving businesses the tools they need to create jobs and by educating our children and creating a world class workforce right here in Minnesota. More details will be available as soon as committees start working on their budget bills and I will continue to update you as new information is available.