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2016 Session Closes with Help for Rural Communities

By May 23, 2016 No Comments

The Minnesota Legislature worked until the last allowable minute of the 2016 session. Two major pieces of legislation crossed the legislative finish line and are on their way to Governor Dayton’s desk for his signature into law. A $258 million tax cut bill and a $182 million supplemental budget bill made it just under the Sunday midnight deadline for passing bills.

Indications are that the Governor will sign these bills into law, but he has 14 days to consider them.

No Bonding Bill

A last minute attempt to pass a $1.295 billion bonding bill that included transportation projects failed to pass. The blame game will begin about whether or not it was the House or Senate’s fault that the bill didn’t get to the Governor’s desk.

The fight was over whether or not to fund the southwest metro light rail line. GOP members vehemently oppose it, while metro DFLers want it. Legislative leaders have said they are willing to come back into a special session to address a bonding bill, but it’s unclear if the Governor is willing to call them back.

Tax Cut Bill Includes Ag2School

The tax cut bill contains a major provision aimed at reducing farm taxes owed for school bond payments. This targeted bond credit for agricultural land is a major win for farmers and school districts struggling to pass building bonds.

The credit amount for each qualifying property is equal to 40 percent of the property’s eligible net tax capacity multiplied by the school debt tax rate (as determined under section 275.08, subdivision 1b.). Learn more about this will work.

E-12 Supplemental Budget

The largest portion of the E-12 supplemental budget supports  a general education pre-K program with $25 million awarded in fiscal year ’17 to districts that apply and meet certain criteria.

Another $12.1 million will go toward student support services grants. The state will underwrite the cost of these staff, but the state share will fade over six years.

The E-12 portion of the supplemental budget bill also contains several provisions requested by rural education interests, including $3 million for the Northwest Regional Partnership. The Partnership was created as a response to the Higher Learning Commission mandate that concurrent enrollment teachers have 18 graduate content credits if they’re to teach that same subject for college credit.

Learn more about what’s included in the supplemental budget.