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Today in the Budget

Posted on February 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM
Categories: Budget, Economy, Greater Minnesota

MSU Logo photo credit: Flickr user xavierla

Today, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman submitted a commentary to the Star Tribune, strongly supporting Governor Dayton’s proposed investments in aid to local governments and $1.4 billion in direct property tax relief to homeowners. Mayor Coleman’s commentary is provided in the attached document. The governor has proposed a $120 million increase in aid to cities and counties, and a $500 property tax rebate for every Minnesota homeowner. More details on the governor’s property tax relief plan are detailed below.


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Today in the Budget

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 1:24 PM
Categories: Budget, Education, Greater Minnesota

Governor Dayton and Commissioner Cassellius read to students at Northport Elementary School
Governor Dayton and Commissioner Cassellius read to students at Northport Elementary School 

Today, the Star Tribune editorial board highlighted the need to invest in early learning, citing the work of Minnesota economist Art Rolnick that shows “for every dollar invested in preschool, society receives a $17 return.” The Star Tribune praised President Obama and Governor Dayton for making early childhood education a priority. The governor’s plan would boost funding for early childhood education and all-day Kindergarten – giving our youngest learners the tools to succeed in school and life.
 
Right now, half of Minnesota children are coming to school unprepared to learn; and Minnesota’s achievement gap is one of the worst in the nation. That is why Governor Dayton’s budget would provide early childhood scholarships for 11,000 more Minnesota students. And it would provide free all-day Kindergarten for 46,000 students statewide. These investments require new revenues proposed in the governor’s tax reform plan.
 
Today, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius is meeting with students and teachers in Austin to discuss the governor’s proposed investments in all-day Kindergarten, and to highlight the need for additional investments in our youngest learners.
 
 
In the News
 
Star Tribune Editorial
 
For too long, Minnesota’s 3- to 5-year-olds have not been high on the state funding priority list — even though most research proves the educational and societal value of strong early education.
 
But welcome momentum is building in St. Paul and Washington, and this could be a banner year for Minnesota’s youngest learners. Under proposals at both the state and federal levels, early learning could receive a much-needed funding boost that would give thousands more youngsters a shot to be better lifelong students and successful adults.
 
Under Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget plan and the supporting House education bill, preschool and kindergarten would receive an additional $84 million annually. That would fund the expansion of all-day kindergarten, preschool and scholarships for quality child care for the state’s neediest students.

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250,000 Minnesotans to Benefit from Fairer, Simpler Taxes

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM
Categories: Budget

Click to enlarge

Today, Governor Mark Dayton signed legislation (HF6/SF119) that will extend key tax benefits for 250,000 teachers, college students, homeowners, businesses, senior citizens, and other Minnesotans. The bill, authored by state Rep. Ann Lenczewski and state Sen. Rod Skoe, will also make it easier for Minnesotans to claim these benefits by eliminating time-consuming and confusing paperwork.
 
“As Minnesotans file their income taxes over the next several months, this legislation will deliver the simplicity and relief they deserve,” said Governor Dayton. “I want to thank legislators from both parties for working together to quickly pass this important legislation. Hundreds of thousands of teachers, students, senior citizens, and middle-class families now stand to benefit as a result.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, over 250,000 Minnesotans will benefit from federal tax conformity, including: 

  • Minnesota Teachers. The educator expense deduction will be extended, which will allow 55,000 teachers to continue claiming the $250 reimbursement for personal, out-of-pocket classroom expenses. 
  • Minnesota Homeowners. Roughly 90,000 homeowners who claim an itemized deduction for mortgage insurance premiums will continue receiving those benefits. 
  • Minnesota College Students. The higher education tuition deduction is extended, allowing 60,000 students or parents of students to receive up to $4,000 in tax relief based on the tuition and fees they pay for post-secondary education.
  • Senior Citizens. Minnesota seniors, who would otherwise need to recalculate the amount of social security benefits taxable in our state, will instead be allowed to transfer up to $100,000 from an IRA or Roth IRA directly to a qualified charity.  

By signing the bill into law today, Governor Dayton has ensured that Minnesota taxpayers can claim these deductions without filing an additional form to complete their taxes. 


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Today in the Budget

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Categories: Budget, Economy, Education, Health

At a news conference this morning, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis, Richfield Mayor Debbie Goettel, Circle Pines Mayor Dave Bartholomay, and other Minnesota mayors urged legislators to pass Governor Dayton’s plan to stabilize local government aid and deliver property tax relief to Minnesota homeowners and businesses.

Over the last ten years, property taxes have gone up 86 percent, placing a huge burden on the middle class. The governor’s plan would deliver $1.4 billion in direct property tax relief to homeowners, increase aid to cities and counties by $120 million over the next two years. Businesses would also benefit from Governor Dayton’s plan. His budget freezes state property taxes for all businesses and cuts state business property taxes by 3.6 percent, or over $120 million through 2017. More information about these measures is outlined below.

Today in Duluth, DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben and Duluth Mayor Don Ness held a news conference to discuss Governor Dayton’s proposed $30 million investment in the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF).

MIF is one of the state’s key job creation tools. It helps encourage Minnesota firms that have options outside of the state to expand here, and provides incentives for businesses outside Minnesota to locate in our state. In recent years, MIF sustained an 86 percent budget cut which severely limited its impact in creating and retaining Minnesota jobs. The governor’s proposed reinvestment in the program will help create tens of thousands of jobs and leverage an estimated $990 million in private investment. More information about MIF is included below.

For additional details about the Governor’s budget, visit http://mn.gov/governor/budget/toolkit and follow the conversation on Twitter at #BetterMN.


In the News

Wadena Pioneer Journal
Minnesota expands health care for poor

Another 35,000 poor Minnesotans will get health care under a bill Gov. Mark Dayton signed Tuesday. The bill expands Medical Assistance, the state’s Medicaid program. The federally funded expansion would save $129 million in the next two-year budget, supporters say.

“Minnesotans who will be covered by this legislation desperately need better-quality health care,” Dayton said. “Instead of taking their health crises to emergency rooms, thousands of low-income children, families and individuals will be able to see doctors sooner and live healthier lives.”

State Rep. Tom Huntley added: “This legislation allows us to cover more Minnesotans with health insurance and at the same time get more bang for our buck for Minnesota taxpayers.”

The senior citizen advocacy group AARP praised the action. “We represent thousands of consumers who have either gone without health care for years because they didn’t qualify for coverage or have lost their health insurance during the economic downturn; they will benefit greatly from this expansion,” AARP Minnesota Director Michele Kimball said.


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Today in the Budget

Posted on February 19, 2013 at 2:01 PM
Categories: Health, Education, Budget

Governor Dayton signs the Medical Assistance expansion bill
Governor Dayton signes the Medical Assistance expansion bill, which will provide health insurance to over 35,000 Minnesotans

At a news conference this morning, Governor Dayton signed a bill into law expanding the state’s Medical Assistance program, providing quality health coverage for an additional 35,000 uninsured Minnesotans. The governor was joined by authors of the bill, state Sen. Kathy Sheran, state Rep. Tom Huntley, state Sen. Jeff Hayden, state Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, and state Rep. Diane Loeffler.
 
Today’s expansion of MA eligibility provides $129 million in projected savings for the 2014-15 biennium. This is in addition to the $1.3 billion that Minnesota is already expected to save by 2015 as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The governor’s budget proposal builds on these savings and includes additional improvements to Medical Assistance that will provide coverage for a total of 145,000 Minnesotans.
 
One of Governor Dayton’s first acts in office was signing an Executive Order expanding access to Medical Assistance for 83,000 low-income Minnesotans. In doing so, the governor provided access to quality health care for those who need it most – reducing the burden of uncompensated care on hospitals and saving an estimated 20,000 health care sector jobs. A recent Colorado survey showed that expanding MA would create 14,000 new jobs in the first 18 months of expanding that state’s MA program and generate an additional $128 million in local tax revenue.
 
The bill signed into law today builds on that important progress by covering more uninsured Minnesotans, maximizing federal funding for public health care programs, and simplifying the enrollment process. Providing coverage for more Minnesotans will reduce the hidden tax that is passed onto Minnesotans with health insurance to pay for uncompensated care.
 
Governor Dayton & Commissioner CasselliusLater today, Governor Dayton joined Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and state Rep. Debra Hilstrom at Northport Elementary School in Brooklyn Center to read a book to Kindergarten students as part of “I Love to Read Month.” The governor’s budget would invest $40 million to provide free all-day Kindergarten for more than 46,000 kids. Numerous studies show that all-day Kindergarten programs consistently lead to better preparedness for students and higher achievement; some studies suggest a return on investment as high as 3:1.
 
In the News
 
Hibbing Daily Tribune
 
Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Lucinda Jesson was in Hibbing to learn about a program that helps Iron Range school children receive mental health services.
 
Educators, counselors, mental health advocates, representatives from Range Mental Health and parents of children who receive school-based services met with Jesson to tell her about what’s happening with school-based mental health programs in northern St. Louis County.
 
“I said: ‘Governor, we really need to do more across our state of what they’re doing in Virginia and Hibbing and up on the Range,’” [Jesson] said.
 
In his budget, Dayton is proposing to double the capacity of schools for mental health prevention and early intervention services. If the funding goes through, it would provide services for about 14,000 additional students at 840 additional school sites.


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Building a Better Minnesota: Improving Mental Health Services

Posted on February 18, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Budget, Health

Children’s Mental Health Services 

In order to help all our children achieve success in school and life, Minnesota must provide additional funding to improve access to mental health support and counseling for Minnesota kids. The Governor’s budget invests $7.4 million to expand school-linked mental health grants, doubling the number of Minnesota schools that can offer essential mental health services to students while they are at school. An estimated 13,900 students would gain access to these mental health services annually by 2017.

Having a child that requires mental health services can be difficult on their families. It is necessary to provide support for these students and families at home. The Governor’s budget would provide funds for an initiative to teach parents and siblings skills that will help them support a child’s mental health treatment at home, in addition to counseling.

A growing number of Minnesota kids have been diagnosed with Autism in the past few years. The Governor’s budget would expand access to quality treatment and services to help kids with Autism improve their communication skills and increase social interaction at a critical time in their development. About 440 kids would gain access to these treatments and services by 2014 and 880 kids would gain coverage each year starting in 2015.


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Today in the Budget

Posted on February 15, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Categories: Budget, Greater Minnesota, Health, Education

Today in the News

Star Tribune
For some Minnesota businesses, sales tax debate is all about fairness

Don't tell Wendy Brown that a business can't charge a sales tax and survive. She's been collecting the tax every time she gives a Schnauzer or a golden doodle a shampoo and a clip at her shop in south Minneapolis. So to her, Gov. Mark Dayton's proposal to lower the tax rate and spread it to a wider variety of businesses -- such as hair salons for humans -- is about fairness.

"I'm just surprised that hair salons have not been taxed," said Brown, owner since 1976 of Wendy's Doghouse, a pet grooming shop a few blocks west of the Minnehaha Dog Park. "I've been paying sales tax forever."

"The lines have been drawn over the years, and they've been relatively arbitrary," said Myron Frans, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Revenue. "There's some people that say the rationale is simply, it depends on who was in the room when the bill was written."

"It's really silly that we've narrowed our sales tax so much," said Wade Vitalis, owner of the Drive-In Restaurant in Taylors Falls (closed for the winter) and Gransburg, Wis. Vitalis has been collecting sales tax for 26 years, adding it to the price of each patty melt and butterscotch malt. When businesses argue that they wouldn't be able to handle it and still prosper, he doesn't buy it.

"I don't have a lot of sympathy for that argument," he said. "If you can't figure out how to do it, someone will, because this is America."

Minnesota Public Radio
Dayton wants to boost funding for English language learning

CHASKA, Minn. — In hopes of boosting student achievement, Gov. Mark Dayton wants to boost funding for the state's English language learning programs by about $4.5 million a year, a 12 percent increase over current levels.

The governor's proposal is aimed at helping the 65,000 students in Minnesota for whom English is not a first language.

The state spends $40 million a year helping those students learn English, while they also study math, reading, writing, and other subjects.

Around the State

This week, cabinet level commissioners continued bringing the governor’s budget proposal to the people of Minnesota. Yesterday, Office of Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller visited with college students in Moorhead, discussing Governor Dayton’s proposed investments in student financial aid. Today, Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson is in Duluth with Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon to discuss the governor’s proposed investments in children’s mental health. The governor’s cabinet will continue traveling across Minnesota next week, holding conversations with Minnesotans about Governor Dayton’s Budget for a Better Minnesota.


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Today in the Budget

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM
Categories: Budget, Education, Health

Today in the News

Click to enlarge Minnesota Daily 
Higher education grants may get boost

Higher education backers are excited that the governor’s budget proposal could substantially increase state grant funding for lower-income students. Gov. Mark Dayton’s biennial budget proposal provides $80 million for the Minnesota State Grant Program — a need-based financial assistance program used by a quarter of undergraduates at the University of Minnesota.

The proposed increase in student aid is the largest in more than 25 years, said Larry Pogemiller, director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

“We’ve slipped behind in higher education, and now we are in a catch-up mode,” said Rep. Lyndon Carlson Sr., DFL-Crystal. “The governor is trying to get us there as rapidly as he can with his proposal.”

Minnesota has the third-highest postgraduate student debt rate in the country, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.


 WJON – AM1240 
Gov. Dayton Addresses Issues at CSB

Governor Mark Dayton defended his budget proposal at a public forum last night. The governor said we have, “a rare opportunity to lead,” in front of a large crowd at the College of St. Benedict.

Dayton covered a range of issues that include taxes, marriage equality and gun control. The governor called for an increase in taxes on wealthy Minnesotans to provide new revenue for the state. He said, “If people are doing better, they should want to pay more taxes.” Dayton says everyone needs to chip in and pay their fair share.

The governor also made a pitch for an increase in higher education spending. He said Minnesota needs to, “put money where our values are.”


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Budget for a Better Minnesota: Helping Veterans Succeed

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Budget, Veterans, Economy, Education

Budget for a Better MN: Helping Veterans Succeed 

Nearly 400,000 veterans call Minnesota home. Their commitment to service and their personal sacrifices have earned them the right to education, opportunities, and benefits.

Governor Dayton’s budget seeks to underscore the service these men and women have given to our country and our state through GI Bill expansion, increased veteran services funding to secure benefits, Honor Guard preservation, and Health Care IT infrastructure improvements to raise the quality of care for our veterans to the highest degree.

The men and women of our armed forced have invaluable skills, skills the state of Minnesota looks to preserve and foster. The funds allocated in the budget invest in our veterans, help create a better Minnesota, and help veterans succeed.

» $1 Million to Expand the Minnesota GI Bill. The Governor’s budget expands the Minnesota GI Bill program to all generations of veterans, not just those serving on or after 9/11. This expansion will ensure all Minnesota veterans have access to the education and training they need to get good paying jobs.

» $1 Million for County Veteran Service Office Grants. The Governor’s budget provides increased grant funding for County Veteran Services Offices, which help veterans and their families obtain benefits and services earned through military service.

» $5 Million for Health Care IT Improvement. The Governor’s budget invests in IT infrastructure upgrades at the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. This investment will allow the department to achieve industry standards in delivering high-quality health care to Minnesota veterans and ensure their safety.

» $400,000 for Honor Guards. The Governor’s budget includes $400,000 in permanent funding for the Honor Guard Program, which supports veterans and their families by providing military burial honors earned through their service and sacrifice. Governor Dayton is committed to ensuring all veterans who request funeral honors receive them. 
 
» $200,000 for the Gold Star Program. The Governor’s budget includes $200,000 in permanent funding for the Gold Star Program, which supports the families of those service members who lost their lives in combat as they heal from their loss.

» $425,000 for new State Veterans Cemetery in Fillmore County. The Governor’s budget includes start-up and ongoing funding for a new state veterans cemetery in Fillmore County, opening in 2015. This State Veterans Cemetery will provide burial space for nearly 40,000 veterans. Governor Dayton believes every veteran deserves a dignified final resting place.


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Budget for a Better Minnesota: Keeping Minnesotans Safe

Posted on February 13, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Categories: Budget, Education, Public Safety