Legislators begin meeting today to reach agreement on what portion of the $1.2 billion projected surplus to invest in better education, improved health and a strong state road system.
The supplemental budget conference committee starts today to work out the differences between Governor Dayton’s supplemental budget and the House and Senate budget proposals, which are housed in House File 3172 (with some additional Senate transportation funding in Senate File 2859).
The Governor proposed modest spending, which he called “essential expenditures,” that totals $141 million. The House and Senate proposed larger spending bills ($322 million in the House and $348 million in the Senate), primarily for increased education and transportation spending over the Governor’s recommendations.
The House and Senate budget bills focus on several similar education priorities intended to close the achievement gap. In transportation, they allocate funds for road repairs to keep our state’s infrastructure strong after the especially harsh weather. Legislators also agree to invest in health and human services, and like the governor, they propose a rate increase for home- and community-based services for seniors and people with disabilities. The House and Senate also include funding for nursing facilities to fill any funding gaps from the minimum wage increase.
Legislators have already passed a tax bill this session that cut taxes by $443 million in this budget cycle and strengthens our budget reserve by $150 million (House File 1777). A second tax bill has also passed both houses, and a tax conference committee will meet later this week to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of House File 3167.
When making these budgetary decisions, we encourage policymakers to make sustainable choices that focus on creating a fairer tax system, expanding opportunity and building ladders into the middle class. Addressing racial gaps in education and health is a good investment.