Senate Republican budget target: $100 million
- The Senate Republican budget proposal is still being developed.
- Senate Republicans have taken votes that would delay our recovery by voting to recklessly ease restrictions before we know we can safely move forward. At that the same time, they opposed amendments to their proposals to ensure workers and the public would be safe.
Governor’s jobs priorities
Governor Walz included permanently expanding unemployment benefits to secondary students who have been previously unable qualify. However, the most ambitious portion of his budget provides Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance to Minnesotans. The program would be funded by a premium paid by employees and employers. Many Minnesotans missed out on caring for a new family member, caring for a family member, or even the ability to properly care for oneself. The establishment of this program would be significant as most industrialized nations already provide a similar program.
Direct Business Payments
During the first portion of the legislative session initial payments went out to businesses directly impact by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Additionally, money was also provided to counties to help other entities that were not directly shut down by executive order. Some qualifying businesses were unable to collect direct payments because of recording keeping errors. However, there are ongoing discussions to remedy these issues after the Legislature reconvenes.
Business assistance for entertainment and event venues
Minnesota has provided several rounds of assistance but to this point had not directly addressed entertainment and event venues. These types of businesses that were directly impacted by social distancing and other limitations to protect the health of the public during the pandemic. Two bills were heard to assist these businesses. However, the fate of these proposals is unclear currently. We will have a better idea on what will happen during the second half of the legislative session to support these businesses.
Since 2016, Senator Champion has carried legislation that would provide money to organizations uniquely adept at reaching BIPOC communities throughout Minnesota. While inequities have occurred in Minnesota since the state’s inception the gulf between white and some BIPOC communities has continued to diverge on many fronts, especially economically.
To continue to help address this issue a bill was heard to appropriate over $24 million for job training and business development in underserved communities. At this time, it is unclear how much funding Senate Republicans will dedicate to closing the equity gap.
Temporary freezing of UI experience ratings
An experience rating a business pays is dependent on their workers utilization of the unemployment insurance program. The more their workforce utilizes the program the higher the businesses tax rate or experience rating. The pandemic has forced many businesses to close, through no fault of their own, for an extended period resulting in layoffs. Legislation passed that would hold their experience rating (tax rate) harmless, reducing some economic uncertainty facing Minnesota’s small businesses as they begin to recover from the pandemic.
Social Security and unemployment
Minnesota is one of the last states remaining that makes this deduction for workers collecting unemployment insurance. AARP is in support of this proposal and provided testimony that the pandemic has really highlighted the need to correct this inequity. The proposal was laid over in committee for possible inclusion in a larger omnibus bill.
Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill
As a highlighted above, Governor Walz and DFLers are pushing for the Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill. While the bill has moved through the committee process in the House, Senate Republicans have refused to act on the proposal or even give the bill an information hearing. Given the pandemic and the impact it has had on families, we understand now, more than ever, how important it is to spend time with sick family members or ensuring a parent have the time to recover and to nurture a new family member. Senate Republicans have refused to act on this proposal for several sessions leaving parents and families stranded when they need to help the most.