Letter: House bills prioritizing rural MinnesotaAs Minnesota House lawmakers put their finishing touches on their balanced budget proposals, I’ve found that many of them are focused on the needs of rural Minnesota.
By: District 22A Rep. Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne, Worthington Daily Globe
As Minnesota House lawmakers put their finishing touches on their balanced budget proposals, I’ve found that many of them are focused on the needs of rural Minnesota.
I think Minnesota House leadership recognizes that rural Minnesota has received the short end of the stick too many times over the years. I’m pleased that our voice is finally being heard.
This past week, the Minnesota House approved several omnibus finance bills, which are plans containing a large number of proposals from a particular program area, such as health and human services or public safety. All of them are designed to fund their specific area of government for the next two years, while also fitting into a balanced budget plan that eliminates Minnesota’s projected $5.1 billion budget deficit.
Several pro-rural Minnesota initiatives have been approved. For example, in the K-12 education bill, per-pupil funding is increased by $86 in years 2012-13 and $40 in 2014. It also adds funding for smaller schools with less than one thousand students.
In the transportation funding proposal, state highway spending would increase by $120 million and local road investments would increase by over $126 million, while Greater Minnesota transit would increase by $1 million.
The taxes proposal, which deals with Local Government Aid (LGA) funding, directed more than 600 cities to receive the same amount of LGA, or the amount they were certified for, than they did in 2010. Two-hundred-forty communities — nearly all of them rural — would actually see an increase in LGA funding.
It’s difficult to fund every priority when you’re trying to eliminate a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, but it’s nice to see rural Minnesota’s needs are being taken into consideration as we move forward in the budget balancing process.