The 2013 legislative session is now over, and we have made a lot of progress in moving Minnesota towards a prosperous future. We worked hard to deliver a budget that wouldn’t kick the can down the road and would prioritize success for our hardworking families and businesses. What we have delivered is a bold vision for the future of Minnesota, and we are once again investing in our state.
Our biggest challenge coming into the session was the necessity of closing the $627 million budget deficit. The past decade of cuts and gimmicks have left us in a perpetual cycle of deficit. This has put a burden on the people of the state, and balancing the budget was our number one concern. We have been able to accomplish that by proposing a budget that makes smart cuts, implements cost-saving reforms and makes necessary investments that will put us on the path for long-term fiscal stability.
A vital aspect of this budget is relieving the burden increased property taxes have placed on middle class homeowners and businesses. These rates have risen in response to the irresponsible fiscal management of the past decade and have been especially hard for border communities. We have $441 million for property tax relief and increased aid to our cities, townships and counties. This relief and increased aid will reverse the trend of rising property tax rates and will help folks save money.
We recognize that we must also prepare for the future of Minnesota, and we are doing this by making historic investments in education. With this budget, we are investing $735 million into our students, from before kindergarten through college. All-day kindergarten is given a priority because we know that students who have access to this do better in the future. We are freezing tuition rates and offering more financial aid to students, which will make college more affordable. Higher education is a key to ensuring long-term success for our state.
Another thing I worked on this session was a constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in 2016. It gives voters the opportunity to decided if a non-partisan body or state legislators should set and determine legislative pay. I think it’s crucial that we have this compensation council in place, as it removes the inherent conflict of interest legislators have with it.
Our hard work this session has paid off, as we adjourned on time and with a clear path forward for Minnesota. Our budget makes smart cuts, implements cost-saving reforms and invests in our state. We are moving forward with a plan that supports the middle class of Minnesota and promises a bright future.