New budget begins moving Minnesota forward

Today, a select number of new laws designed to move Minnesota forward go into effect. The laws are part of the comprehensive budget passed by the DFL-led legislature and signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton after the 2013 Legislative Session adjourned on time this past May.

Among the most significant laws set to go into effect today are historic investments in education, a big reason why many have dubbed 2013 as the ‘Education Session.’

Over the past decade, Minnesotans have been rightly frustrated by the gridlock and budget deficits, shifts, and gimmicks they have seen at the State Capitol, and this year we changed course. We worked to balance the budget honestly and keep the promises we made to Minnesotans. Through these new laws, we’re investing in priorities Minnesotans broadly share like education, property tax relief and job creation.

A breakdown of the major pieces of legislation going into effect today are below, organized according to issue area.

EDUCATION (K12 and Higher Ed):

  • Free all-day Kindergarten for every child and early learning scholarships for thousands of low-income families to help send their children to preschool.
  • $485 million investment in new money for K-12 education over the next two years, with roughly half of the new funding going towards the basic school funding formula (1.5 percent increases each year).
  • Accelerated repayment of the school shift using any surplus in the General Fund at the end of fiscal year 2013.
  • Two-year tuition freeze for resident undergraduates at the University of Minnesota and all undergraduates at the MnSCU system.
  • $40 million investment in new money for Special Education.
  • Problematic high-stakes high school graduation exams replaced with new sets of ACT-style tests designed to maximize career and college readiness.
  • New achievement goals implemented to build the World’s Best Workforce, including fully closing the achievement gap and reaching 100 percent literacy by third grade, 100 percent high school graduation rate, and 100 percent career and college readiness by graduation.

JOBS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:

  • $30 million investment in new money for the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) to fund proven job creation strategies like low-interest business loans.
  • $24 million investment in new money for the Job Creation Fund to help businesses make capital investments and create good Minnesota jobs.
  • New funding to support the Minnesota Trade Office in China and build three additional offices (one of which is designated for Germany) to help Minnesota businesses sell their goods and compete in foreign markets.

TAXES:

  • $400 million investment for middle class property tax relief, with direct relief for homeowners and renters as well as increased aid for local governments to help continue providing high-quality services like police officers and firefighters.
  • Fairness restored to Minnesota’s tax system by closing corporate tax loopholes and asking the wealthiest two percent of Minnesotans to chip in two percent more.
  • $346.5 million in tax cuts for Minnesota employers by lowering Unemployment Insurance payments—the largest business tax cut in State history.
  • Funding for historic public-private partnership between Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic to create over 30,000 jobs in the next 20 years.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES:

  • Five percent pay increase for nursing home workers and one percent pay increase for long-term care workers—the first raise in over four years.

As always, please feel free to contact me. You can reach me by phone at 651-296-6206 or by email at rep.mary.sawatzky@house.mn. Thanks for the honor of representing you in the Minnesota House.

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