Governor Mark Dayton’s budget includes several proposals intended to invest in the state’s future prosperity by increasing investments in housing opportunities, wage protections, transportation and economic development.
Housing: The governor proposes $10 million in FY 2018 intended to address racial housing disparities through the Housing Finance Agency. These would:
- assist low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers with down payment and closing cost assistance;
- provide education to low- and moderate-income potential homebuyers, with particular attention to households of color; and
- assist families to find stable housing, including those currently or recently experiencing homelessness.
Wage protections: Dayton’s budget also seeks to address the problem of wage theft, which is when workers don’t get paid what they are owed for work already completed. The state’s Department of Labor and Industry estimates that more than 39,000 workers are victims of wage theft each year, which results in almost $12 million in lost wages. The governor proposes $1 million to create a wage theft education and enforcement team. The governor also proposes to strengthen laws regarding wage theft, including more clearly defining the term “wage theft” and increasing penalties for wage theft violations.
Transportation: The governor’s proposal would raise $1.0 billion in additional revenues in FY 2018-19 for his “NexTen” transportation proposal. This would come from a 6.5 percent gross receipts gas tax and increasing fees for vehicle registration and title transfers. The governor’s proposal also authorizes $2 billion in highway bonds over the next decade that will fund improvements to our state’s roads. His proposal seeks to bridge funding gaps highlighted in a report by the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee in 2012 to meet state infrastructure needs like repairing the state’s roads and bridges. He also includes investments in transit: $10 million annually to increase bus service in Greater Minnesota, including more morning and evening service hours and multi-county services; and increased funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
Economic development: The governor also proposes $20 million so that businesses owned by women, people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, or located in Greater Minnesota can better access state supports for job creation and business expansion through the Minnesota Investment Fund and the Job Creation Fund. He also proposes an additional $60 million to expand the availability of broadband internet services, a portion of which is set aside to serve tribal and low-income areas.