ST. PAUL, MINN. – Increased funding for schools, investment in small businesses and economic infrastructure as well as helping out communities suffering from housing shortages are just a few of the ways Senator David Tomassoni’s (DFL-Chisholm) section of the finance bill will help Minnesotans. On Tuesday Sen. Tomassoni, Chair of the Environment and Economic Development Committee, voted to pass the Senate’s $209 million omnibus investment bill on a 37 to 27 vote.
“My division invested a total of $19 million into a wide variety of projects and research all aimed at bettering Minnesota’s communities, educating our adults and improving our environment. I’m pleased with our portion of the finance bill, and the omnibus bill in general,” said Sen. Tomassoni.
Highlights from Sen. Tomassoni’s division of the bill include $1 million to purchase school trust land which means more money for Minnesota schools. The Department of Natural Resources is allotted $1.7 million for a shortfall in parks and trails management and another $2.4 million for shooting sports facilities and the ‘Let’s Go Fishing’ program. There are also several appropriations for research, including $660,000 to the University of Minnesota to study terrestrial invasive species, along with $2.4 million for the Minnesota Initiative Foundation which assists businesses statewide with loans, grants and establishing partnerships.
Several communities in Sen. Tomassoni’s district will see a portion of the $4.5 million headed to the Business Development Grant Program. The money will be used to improve economic infrastructure for cities including Eveleth, Virginia and Hibbing. The bill also invests in the Iron Range infrastructure both at the city and township level, and allows the use of the mining effects tax to be used entirely by single recipients.
Additionally, the bill begins repaying the 21st Century Mineral Account with a one-time appropriation of $5 million; the fund was unallotted by Gov. Pawlenty in 2003. In future years, pending a positive budget forecast, the remaining $19.1 million owed to the account will be refunded.
“We tried to spend wisely in our distribution of investments across all sectors. We particularly favored investments in small businesses, workforce development grants as well as research that will help remedy our state’s invasive species problem and help develop perennial and winter annual crops,” said Sen. Tomassoni.
He concluded, “I’m proud of the Senate’s work so far this session. We’ve shown we’re willing to invest in the things that make Minnesota great.”
The Senate’s finance bill also included significant investments into Health and Human Services by funding the 5% Campaign, which allocates rate increases to home and community based caregivers. The bill also allocates $21.6 million for early learning programs and another $10.25 million for K-12 academic achievement.