Another week has passed in the 2012 legislative session. I now present you with some of the highlights from the Capitol.
TRANSPORTATION: This week the Senate Transportation Committee heard testimony from the Department of Public Safety regarding a Soft Body Armor funding request for law enforcement officers and agencies. In addition, the Committee passed a supplemental trunk highway appropriation bill. Both requests were passed by the Senate Finance Committee and will now be up for consideration by the full Senate. Next week, we will hold an informational hearing on the Local Government Roads Wetland Replacement Program that allows the Board of Water and Soil Resources to replace wetlands for local government road construction projects.
JOBS GROWTH AND TAX RELIEF: The Senate took up the Jobs and Tax Relief bill on the floor Friday. Senate File 1972 provides tax relief of over $102 million in Fiscal Year 2013 for families and job creators and the total tax relief over the next three years is nearly $300 million. Two-thirds of the $102 million relief is for individual income taxpayers.
Tax relief for businesses and job creators makes more capital available for investment, equipment, expansion and additional employees. This is the type of legislation, a true jobs bill, which will help to grow the private sector economy. It makes long term, sustainable changes to improve the jobs climate, not just short term fixes. The provisions in Senate File 1972 send a clear signal to entrepreneurs, investors and job creators that Minnesota is open for business.
INVESTING IN MINNESOTA’S FUTURE: The 2012 Capital Investment bill was introduced on Wednesday and passed in committee. The bill focuses on Minnesota’s future by making prudent investments in higher education and state infrastructure. The total amount of the proposal is $496 million in general obligation bonds.
The largest portions of the bill include:
o $179 million for higher education requests, 36 percent of total bill
o $125 million for state assets preservation, 25 percent of total bill
o $35 million for local roads and bridges
o $30.5 million for flood mitigation
o $25 million for exterior renovation of the State Capitol
o $20 million for waste water infrastructure across the state
o $6 million for Reinvest in Minnesota
Together with last year’s bonding agreement with Governor Dayton, total Senate bonding requests will be under $1 billion for the biennium. The bill also includes a provision that requires the Commissioner of Management and Budget to report back to the Legislature on the jobs created or retained as a result of capital project funding by the state.
PRIORITIZING EDUCATION: House File 2083 was approved by my colleagues and I in the Senate on Monday. This important bill speeds up the payment schedule of delayed funding to our schools. To resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, a conference committee met and agreed Wednesday to final language. If signed into law by the Governor, effective immediately, the bill would move from a 60 to 70.2 percent payment shift by using $430 million from reserves.
If you ever have any comments or questions regarding a state legislative issue or concerns regarding the actions of a state agency, please do not hesitate to contact me.