Rep. Ben Lien, Published June 01 2013
Letter: Minn. legislative session good for state and for District 4ADespite the $1.1 billion deficit the Minnesota Legislature faced at the beginning of the session, we were able to write a responsibly balanced budget and invest in education, property tax relief and economic development. Specifically, the investments focused on:
- $485 million in new E-12 funding;
- Tuition freezes at the MnSCU and University of Minnesota systems (and new financial accountability measures put into law for the systems);
- $400 million in property tax relief that will extend to homeowners, renters and businesses;
- A 5 percent increase in nursing home funding;
- A 1 percent increase in long-term care funding;
- $97.5 million in economic development (with $54 million going directly to business expansion and job creation in Minnesota).
The dollars used to make these investments came from cuts, efficiencies and new sources of revenue. The cuts and efficiencies largely originated in transportation and health and human services, respectively. The new revenue resulted by asking the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans to pay more in taxes and eliminating tax loopholes used by foreign corporations. We also increased the tax on cigarettes. However, the large majority of Minnesotans will pay the same income and sales tax rates, while most of those same Minnesotans will see a decrease in property taxes.
The session was also very good for District 4A. The Legislature made a
$1.5 million appropriation for the Border City Development and Enterprise Zone. This program assists businesses on the borders of Minnesota and North and South Dakota to expand, hire new workers, and remain competitive in terms of property taxes and workers compensation costs.
Another program that assists border city businesses is the Disparity Reduction Credit. Currently the program holds business property taxes at 2.3 percent. Sen. Kent Eken and I were able to reform the program and hold business property taxes at 1.9 percent.
Changes were made to Local Government Aid that will provide more transparent, stable and reliable funding for local governments and included an appropriation of
$80 million for the 2014-15 biennium (Moorhead is expected to see $14.2 million in LGA over the biennium).
We also made gains in flood mitigation funding ($5.7 million for Moorhead and $250,000 for Oakport Township) and secured a $275,000 grant for improvements to M.B. Johnson Park in north Moorhead.
It was an incredible honor to represent District 4A at the state Capitol this session. I was very pleased that we were able to accomplish so much for the state and our community. It was especially a privilege to remain in contact with folks from Moorhead and Oakport Township all session. I look forward to knocking on doors this summer and continuing those conversations.
Lien, DFL-Moorhead, represents District 4A in the Minnesota House.