Five years ago, the state faced a $6 billion budget deficit. The legislature worked hard to put Minnesota on sound fiscal footing and the Senate DFL Caucus’ supplemental budget reflects their commitment to protecting our state’s finances from future downturns.
The Senate DFL Caucus budget targets continue our commitment to build an economy that works for everyone by: investing in transportation, equity for workers and families, building Minnesota, and expanding education opportunities.
The Senate DFL Caucus budget proposal invests $100.5 million in education. The funds will be dedicated to expanding education opportunities and providing all of our students – regardless of ZIP code – access to a great education. It will also ensure our workforce is prepared for better jobs, make our state a place of innovation, and build an economy that increases opportunity for all Minnesotans.
The Senate Caucus will support funding for early childhood and K-12 education so Minnesota’s students are prepared to out-innovate the competition and succeed in a modern economy. Solving Minnesota’s teacher shortage crisis has been a long-time goal and that is reflected in this year’s supplemental budget bill. To help recruit young teachers, the Senate supports programs that can help entice young people to address burdensome student debt and can fill shortage areas such as math, science, and special education.
Minnesota has a school counselor crisis. We rank 46th out of the 50 states in student to counselor ratio: 755 students to every one counselor. At the same time, mental health needs are growing: more than 90% of counselors say they have helped students with family problems, depression, aggressive or disruptive behavior, or anxiety in the past 12 months. Integrating school counseling programs with the academic missions of schools will help better support students’ academic, career, personal, and social development, and will benefit the entire school community.
The Senate is also investing in teacher training and development, which will help drive innovation and strengthen Minnesota teachers’ skills in the classroom. We are also eliminating the cap on Q-comp, which helps bring equity to school funding and levels the playing field.
We anticipate the Senate’s tax bill will include student loan debt reduction options, which will allow graduates who are saddled with burdensome student debt to participate more fully in Minnesota’s economy.
The Senate DFL Caucus also proposes cutting taxes for middle class Minnesotans. The Senate tax bill, with its $300 million target, will prioritize the pocketbooks of workers and families by providing reasonable and sensible tax relief for property owners, aid to our local governments, student loan debt relief, and tax relief for working families.
The Senate DFL and Governor Dayton are committed to investing in high speed internet service for all Minnesotans. The Senate investment of $85 million, joining the $10 million investment last year, is critical if we are going to address the serious need.
There is still a significant need in suburban and Greater Minnesota for reliable, affordable, high speed internet service. Lack of access to high speed internet hurts the ability of businesses to grow, slows the speed of commerce, and is a disadvantage to families and students as more and more of our school and work relies upon internet access and reliability.
Our commitment to investing in transportation remains unwavering, with a target of a $31.5 million General Fund contribution to go toward a comprehensive, sustainable transportation package, where bonding and tax provisions will fund the remaining transportation needs. Roads, bridges, and transit across the state must be funded with dedicated, sustainable funds, not budget shifts and gimmicks.
We are also committed to building an economy that works for all Minnesotans. The Equity Subcommittee has received a $91 million target. This investment will deliver on the commitment to continue addressing persistent racial and economic disparities throughout Minnesota. Addressing Minnesota’s disparities is critical for our economy. As we enter a workforce shortage, we need every Minnesotan working to their highest potential.
Providing paid family leave for workers and families facing a health crisis or welcoming a new child into their family is a key priority for the Senate DFL Caucus. We have a crisis in caregiving: our population is aging, more people are working harder for less money and benefits, and people of color face huge inequities in access to opportunities and benefits. The Senate DFL’s Paid Family Leave Act will lead the nation in coming together to solve this crisis.