At the start of the 2013 legislative session, we focused on how to fix our deficit without gimmicks or shifts while making substantial investments in Minnesotans’ shared priorities. The budget solution passed this year and in effect since July 1 delivers on these priorities and honors the promise of a stronger future for all Minnesotans.
During the 2013 session, we approved significant investments in priorities that Minnesotans broadly support. For instance, we gave every Minnesota student access to world class schools and colleges — a new $735 million investment. Now, students and families can take advantage of increased early child care scholarships, free all-day kindergarten, a two year tuition freeze for MnSCU and U of M schools and increased direct financial aid for more students.
On top of this historic education investment, we provided property tax relief for Minnesota homeowners and businesses. Property taxes have doubled over the last decade. One of the leading causes of this growth was the disinvestment in our local government aid (LGA) program. The 2013 budget significantly increases city and county aid. Most of our cities receive a more than 10 percent boost in aid and all of our counties see a more than 14 percent increase. These increases in LGA and other measures passed as part of the Tax Bill result in $441 million in property tax relief across Minnesota.
Both our investments in education and in property tax relief took effect July 1. Renewed funding for county agriculture societies and county fairs also began this month. Over the next two years, county fairs across District 1 will receive aid to enhance arts access and education, and to preserve and promote Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage. This funding is great news for the many county fairs hosted every year in our communities. These events bring District 1 residents together and allow us to discuss and share our arts, agriculture and heritage. I will be traveling to many fairs throughout the summer and I look forward to talking with folks then.
I’m proud of how the legislature worked together to put Minnesota on a solid financial footing. In 2012, Minnesotans made it clear that the Legislature needed to reinvest in our state. We needed a true investment to end the troubling deficit after deficit cycle. And we needed to invest in Minnesota’s students so they were ready to compete in the 21st Century global economy. All together, our accomplishments this session are something Minnesotans can be proud of.