By: Minnesota State Senator Kevin Dahle
Senate Supplemental Budget Invests in Minnesota’s Future
Last week, the $489 million Senate supplemental budget bill passed off the Senate floor after a thorough review process in committees. The Senate budget makes smart investments to the state’s two-year budget passed last year, with much of the new spending designated as “one-time” to protect the state from future economic downturns. The Senate has focused not on just one or two parts of the state budget, but has assembled a well-rounded budget that makes targeted investments into our entire state.
Following up on our promises, education receives the largest supplemental budget investment, totaling $100.5 million. This was the budget article I had the closest involvement in, and my Teacher Shortage Act, which I have written about in these columns in the past, was included in the bill along with a few smaller provisions. The Senate bill provides all of our students – regardless of ZIP code – access to a great education, will ensure our workforce is prepared for better jobs, make our state a place of innovation, and builds an economy that increases opportunity for all Minnesotans.
This year, the Senate formed an equity subcommittee, and has allocated $91 million to address persistent racial and economic disparities throughout Minnesota. This investment targets business grants, incubator services, workforce development programs, and youth and community resilience programs. As our former Senator Wellstone has said, “We all do better when we all do better,” and closing the gap between us will have ripple effects through our entire economy.
To improve rural high speed internet, the Senate dedicates $85 million to implement planning, applications, and the deployment of broadband across the state. This is critical to economic development in our communities: broadband access offers great opportunity for e-commerce, distance learning, telehealth, and precision agriculture.
The Senate makes a $60 million supplemental budget investment in Natural Resources, Economic Development, and Agriculture. Some of the highlights include farm safety and organic agriculture grants, all directed at strengthening our rural economy. This part of the budget also funds provisions to strengthen and preserve our precious natural resources for years to come. The bill provides real economic development in the form of work grants, small business development centers, rural career counseling, and job creation programs.
The Higher Education portion of the bill invests $47.7 million into the need-based state grant program, providing additional programming at MnSCU, and funding a resident undergraduate tuition decrease at the U of M. The higher education budget also includes provisions to help address our workforce shortages in rural Minnesota.
More is included in this budget than I have space to write about, including reform for MNsure, offender treatment, and transportation safety. If anyone has questions about what’s included or what didn’t make it into the bill, I encourage you to contact me at [email protected] or (651) 296-1279.
Nobody will agree on everything that is included in this bill, including myself: that’s the name of the game when putting together any kind of budget. But all together, the supplemental budget bill fulfills our responsibility to build an economy that works for everyone: building Minnesota, investing in families, increasing equity for workers, and expanding opportunities in education, the economy, and beyond.