The 2008 Legislature solved the $935 million budge shortfall using a combination of $355 million in spending cuts, $100 million in corporate tax changes, and $550 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund. A brief overview of the session:
- The Education Bill provides an additional $51 per student in one-time aid to school districts. The bill also allows districts to transfer up to $51 per student from their capital operating funds to help districts put more money into classrooms.
- The Transportation package will invest $6.6 billion in new resources into our state’s infrastructure over the next 10 years.
- The Legislature, with an overwhelming bipartisan majority in both House and Senate, passed a $925 million bonding bill, which will create thousands of jobs. Local projects include money for the Mills Town Trail, the Faribault Prison expansion, and the Scott County Regional Training facility.
- After a year’s worth of work and bipartisan compromise, the Legislature passed significant health care reform that will result in reduced costs and increased access.
- Historic legislation that will give Minnesotans the choice to invest invest in the things they love most about their state: lakes and rivers, outdoor resources, and cultural amenities. A constitutional amendment will be on the ballot this fall that will dedicate and additional 3/8 of 1% of state sales tax revenue in those unique qualities that characterize Minnesota’s way of life.
- A $24 million compensation for the survivors of the I-35W Bridge collapse.
- Homeowners will see property tax relief under the 2008 tax bill. This includes a plan that would prevent local levies from rising more than 3.9% a year, and investments of $60 million in Local Government Aid which will go to cities and counties to cushion the effect of a levy limit.
This provides a brief summary of the 2008 legislative session. Other important work was done in the areas of agriculture, commerce and consumer protection, pensions, energy and the environment, higher education, veterans and military affairs, business and economic development. I will be weighing in on some of the specifics of many of these bills as we head into summer.