Senate Republicans vote to slash funding for job training, economic development

Earlier today, the Republican-led Minnesota Senate passed a finance bill that slashes funding for critical job training and economic development programs in the state. The bill also raids $45 million from a key Northern Minnesota job-creation fund to help solve the state’s budget deficit.

“The Republican budget is bad for business, bad for workers, and bad for Minnesota,” said Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm. “During these difficult economic times, Republicans are proposing to cut job training funds for laid-off workers and steal money from Northern Minnesota’s most important job-creation tool. This is the wrong direction for our state.”

Key provisions in the bill include:

· This bill includes a $45 million dollar cut to the Doug J. Johnson Economic Development Trust Fund, a key economic development and job-creation tool in Northern Minnesota. The money for this fund comes from a taconite tax which is paid in lieu of property taxes on taconite mines. Essentially, Republicans are proposing to take $45 million in property tax revenue from Northern Minnesota for use in solving the state’s budget deficit.

· The bill eliminates the Minnesota Trade Office, a move that will hurt efforts to provide expertise and contacts to businesses who want to grow by expanding to a new market or increasing their exports. The Trade Office is a conduit for Minnesota small and large businesses in the world economy.

· The bill cuts $2 million from the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which helps disabled clients prepare for, find and keep jobs. This move will force the state to pay the federal government back $14 million in 2012. For every dollar Minnesota invests in this program we receive $3.70 back from the federal government. Not only does this short-sighted decision eliminate 100 full time jobs, it impacts 12,000 people with disabilities eligible for this program who will be on a waiting list instead of preparing to find and keep a job.

· The proposal cuts job training for laid-off workers through a $2.6 million cut to the Workforce Development Fund, at a time when unemployment is still high and people are searching for work.

“This bill, quite simply, is a job-killer,” said Sen. Tomassoni. “The Doug J. Johnson Trust Fund is a critical part of keeping jobs and strong communities in Northern Minnesota. Republicans may want to use this fund as their own personal piggy-bank, but for those of us who live in Northern Minnesota, we’d rather see that money invested in new jobs.”

The budget bill, S.F. 1016, was passed on a party-line vote, 36 to 28, with all Republicans voting in support.

For more information, contact Sen. Tomassoni’s Capitol office at (651) 296-8017 or sen.david.tomassoni@senate.mn.

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Senator David Tomassoni
David Tomassoni represents District 6, which includes portions of Itasca and St. Louis counties in the northeastern part of the state.

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