Jobs & Labor
Early in session, Governor Dayton released his budget proposal that provided significant resources for jobs, economic development, and consumer protections. Many of these proposals targeted the entire state, but the bill also focuses on areas and people who have not seen the economic success many Minnesotans have been able to take advantage of post-recession.
Republicans have also proposed a budget that invests $10 million in new money for jobs, labor, agriculture, and commerce. This is all relative to a budget surplus of over $1.6 billion. While the Republicans are able to make important investments, they do so by shifting money and cutting programs to fund these priorities.
In the coming weeks, the Republican led Legislature and Governor Dayton will be meeting to discuss the differences and commonalities of their budget. As this process occurs and bills are put together it is important that legislators hear from citizens and communities across the state. (SF 1937)
Minnesota Investment Fund & Job Creation Fund
At the insistence of the House Republicans, cuts were made to the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) and the Job Creation Fund (JCF) in 2016. The programs have been vital to attracting and retaining jobs in Minnesota. The Governor’s budget recommended restoring the cuts made by returning the funding levels to $25 million for the JCF and 30 million for the MIF. Beyond the financial resources provided in his budget, Dayton proposed policy language making it easier for greater Minnesota cities and targeted communities be able to access these funds.
Republicans budgeted $25 million in the Minnesota Investment Fund and $16 million in the Job Creation Fund. Relative to the Minnesota Investment Fund, $4 million is reserved for a specific project in the state. Between these two programs, Republicans are $15 million short of the Governor’s recommendations for these programs.
Governor Dayton also proposed investing $60 million in the biennium for border-to-border broadband. Broadband is a critical service that needs to be provided for communities to be successful. Beyond quality of life, broadband access provides access to education opportunities, business markets, and health care services.
The Republicans invested $20 million for broadband in the biennium, which makes them $40 million short of Governor Dayton’s budget proposal. Given the importance of broadband to unserved and underserved areas $20 million will not have as large of an impact as the recommendation brought forward by Governor Dayton.
Minnesota Wage Theft Prevention Initiative
Within the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), the Governor recommended allocating additional resources to ensure people who are working are able to access money that is owed to them through the Minnesota Wage Theft Prevention Initiative. Currently, DLI estimates that 39,000 Minnesotans experienced wage theft. In total these Minnesotans are robbed of $11.9 million that is owed to them. Minnesota families cannot afford a stolen paycheck, and the state would help ensure that back actors aren’t allowed to flaunt their responsibilities. The Senate Republicans did not provide additional resources for this initiatives.
Additional resources are also expended to continue to fund the PIPELINE project. The Minnesota PIPELINE (Private Investment, Public Education, Labor and Industry Experience) program was created to help businesses and trained workers connect in high demand workforce areas. Resources for this program were also included in the budget proposed by Senate Republicans.
Governor Dayton did not make any changes to Equity Funding. The Republican proposal cuts $7 million for competitive grants for equity workforce opportunities. Last biennium, DFLers appropriated competitive grant money to provide training, education, and business opportunities for targeted communities that were not as economically successful post-recession.