After a decade of deficits, state leaders are now facing a $1.9 billion budget surpluscreated by Minnesota’s strong and growing economy. As Minnesota continues the discussion on where to invest the state’s budget surplus, Governor Dayton today released his supplemental budget proposal, which after his newly-proposed investments today, would devote nearly 80 percent ($1.5 billion) of the surplus to Minnesota children, students, and families. Governor Dayton’s plan would make bold new investments in education at every level, put hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of working families, and make long overdue investments in the state’s aging, under-funded transportation systems.
The Governor’s supplemental budget proposal, released in detail today, would invest Minnesota’s surplus in free universal pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-olds and increase funding for every K-12 public school in Minnesota. Additionally, the Governor’s budget proposal would invest in higher education to make it more affordable for Minnesota students and their families. His proposal would deliver $187 million in tax credits for child care and working families, and raise wages for low-income working families for the first time in nearly 30 years. It would also provide additional funding for nursing homes, and provide for essential public safety improvements.
Excellent Educations for Every Student
Over the last four years, the Governor and Legislature invested $895 million in preK-12 education. The Governor’s supplemental budget proposal, released today, would again deliver on that promise, investing an additional $695 million in preK-12 education. It would also provide $288 million for initiatives that would improve our higher education system, and make it more affordable for Minnesota families. These bold new investments would help ensure every Minnesota student receives an excellent education.
- Free, Full-Day PreK for Every Four-Year-Old – The Governor’s budget would invest $343 million to provide every four-year-old (47,000 kids) access to free, full-day pre-kindergarten learning opportunities statewide.
- More Funding for Every School – The Governor’s budget would invest in K-12 schools statewide, increasing the per-pupil funding formula to $5,948 by 2017, and putting additional funding into the special education formula. These new resources would give local school districts the flexibility to meet the needs of their students and classrooms – from lowering class sizes, hiring new counselors, investing in technology, or providing other need programs and services.
- Tackling the Achievement Gap – The Governor’s proposal would invest in a multi-layered approach to narrow the state’s achievement gap. It would eliminate the current Head Start waiting list, provide support to help all students read well, target educational support to parents of at-risk children ages 0-8, and more.
- Healthy Students – The Governor’s budget would provide free breakfasts for pre-K-3 students, fund in-school programs to improve student behavior, and support parents of at-risk children.
- Investing in Higher Education – The Governor’s budget would invest $288 million to freeze tuition at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), expand the State Grant Program, return the University of Minnesota Medical School to national prominence, and make other needed improvements to higher education.
Investing in Children and Families
Governor Dayton’s supplemental budget proposal would invest an additional $367 million in children and families over the next two years. Those new investments would make child care more affordable for 130,000 low- and middle-income families, provide additional tax relief for over 280,000 working families, and provide better services for low-income families and at-risk children in Minnesota. It would also provide more economic stability for 70,000 low-income children and 29,000 low-income adults, by increasing MFIP payments for the first time since 1986. The proposal would also invest in strategies to prevent the abuse and neglect of children. These efforts would put more money in the pockets of working families, and help ensure all children receive the care and support they need to succeed in school and life.
- Working Family Tax Credit – The Governor’s proposal would invest $83 million in tax relief for low- and middle-income families statewide. More than 287,000 families would save an additional $138 per year, on average. Eligible families would receive an average total credit of $769.
- Child and Dependent Care Credit – Minnesota is the 4th-most expensive state for child care in the nation, with annual care costs totaling over $10,800 for one child. The Governor’s proposal would invest $103 million to expand the Child and Dependent Care Credit, making child care more affordable for 130,000 low-and middle-income families. The average family would save $429 per year, with maximum credits of $2,100 per year.
- K-12 Education Tax Credit – The Governor’s budget would invest $11 million in expanding the K-12 Education Tax Credit to 16,800 more Minnesota families, saving them an estimated $322 per year for education-related expenses. Eligible families could receive up to $1,000 for each child to offset expenses for textbooks, tutoring, computers, transportation, and other eligible expenses.
- Minnesota Family Investment Program – State assistance for low-income families has not increased since 1986 – leaving parents and families without the means to survive and provide adequate care for their children. The Governor’s proposal would invest $68 million to increase monthly payments for low-income families by $100 per month, or $1,200 per year. This measure would help an estimated 70,000 children and 29,000 adults live better, safer, healthier lives.
- Protecting Children from Abuse and Neglect – Last year, Governor Dayton convened a new Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children to recommend strategies that would protect kids from abuse and neglect. The Governor’s supplemental budget proposal sets aside $52 million to fund the Task Force’s forthcoming recommendations.
- Improving the Lives of Children and Families – The Governor’s proposal would also invest an additional $50 million to improve access to high-quality child care for low-income families, provide additional outreach to parents of at-risk children, help homeless youth, increase the state’s investment in children’s mental health services, and more.
Stronger, Safer, Healthier Communities
Governor Dayton’s supplemental budget proposal would also provide additional investments to improve the care of senior citizens, enhance public safety, and build stronger communities with affordable housing. Proposed investments in these programs, and others, are detailed online.
- Nursing Homes – Governor Dayton invested $93 million in nursing homes over the last four years. Today, the Governor is proposing investing an additional $25 million to increase worker salaries, retain qualified workers, and provide better care for nursing home residents statewide.
- Public Safety – The Governor’s budget includes $149 million for essential public safety efforts, the courts, and corrections system. These investments, which represent 8 percent of the total surplus, would enhance the safety of Minnesotans, and ensure the efficient, productive operation of the state’s justice system. The proposal would fund seven additional officers for the state’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit to track down and arrest dangerous criminals, and 10 additional staff members to supervise and help prevent offenders from becoming fugitives in the future.
- Affordable Workforce Housing – The Governor’s budget would invest an additional $10 million in the Housing Job Growth Initiative – a program designed to build affordable housing in regions of Greater Minnesota where local business and job growth would be enhanced with better access to quality, affordable housing. This proposed investment would fund an estimated 650 affordable workforce housing units across Minnesota, addressing about 10 percent of the state’s workforce housing needs. It would double the $10 million investment made in the program in 2013.