Why the Senate’s vision sets Minnesota on a continued path to prosperity
As the House and Senate moves into conference committee to debate their prospective jobs bills, now is the perfect time to compare and contrast the two very different bills.
The Senate Jobs Bill continues this session’s trend of placing greater emphasis on jobs and economic development in rural parts of the state. The package of legislation makes important investments in rural Minnesota through grants for market-based housing, and providing job and skills training that will help alleviate the serious workforce shortage issues we’ve been hearing about. It’s also good for businesses by providing technical assistance and matching dollars for projects that will create jobs in every corner of the state.
In contrast, the House Jobs Bill makes cuts to affordable housing, and includes a highly controversial tip penalty that would reduce wages for some minimum wage workers. The House bill sets a lower minimum wage, or tip penalty, for workers who receive $4.00 or more in tips per hour. The minimum wage, — which the legislature just raised for the first time in years during the 2014 session — sets a wage floor among all workers, and provides a level of stability for tipped workers in their incomes. This provision would erode the progress our state made last session. Most Minnesotans believe their tips shouldn’t subsidize a business, and instead should be a reflection of good service.
The Senate’s jobs bill, rather than tearing down progress, builds on successful workforce development programs that connect workers with jobs in their communities. The bill increases the Adult Workforce Development Grants program by $8 million. The Business Development Competitive Grants program also gets a boost of $6 million; this money helps smaller communities grow and develop new businesses, which helps build and sustain economic development and creates jobs. The House bill, on the other hand, chose to cut $11 million from the Minnesota Job Creation Fund and Investment Funds – both proven and highly successful programs.
The Senate also invested $17 million into broadband grants. This money will be used for border-to-border broadband grants to continue the state’s goal of giving all Minnesotans access to broadband internet. Currently, roughly 20% of the state’s residents lack access to basic broadband. The House invested $8 million into broadband, significantly less, which means fewer dollars to go around which helps improve economic development and access to education and health care in more rural parts of the state.
Accessing affordable housing continues to be a struggle for many low and middle-income Minnesotans. The Senate Jobs Bill invests $8 million into the Housing Job Growth Initiative which will be used for grants to Minnesota communities experiencing low vacancy rates and anticipated job expansions. This investment supports Minnesota businesses and the jobs they create. In contrast, the House’s $5 million cut to the Challenge Fund, which expands affordable workforce housing in areas of job growth – will not help either Minnesota businesses, or the people seeking jobs in communities with low vacancy rates.
The Senate Jobs Bill is focused on the future of Minnesota, and builds on past accomplishments by investing in programs that we know help strengthen communities, give job-seekers access to skilled workforce development sites, and help widen access to affordable housing. These are all programs that have contributed to Minnesota’s recent economic successes. Conversely, the House’s cuts to these programs and simultaneous penalties to low-wage tipped employees are hurtful to Minnesotans. The Senate DFL is committed to helping those who need it most, because in the words of Sen. Paul Wellstone, “we all do better, when we all do better.”