By Roman Witucki, Guest Columnist
Thanks to the work of Gov. Mark Dayton and the DFL-led Legislature, the 2013 legislative session ended Monday, May 20, with a balanced budget.
For the past decade, Minnesota’s budgets have been balanced with gimmicks, like shifting money around or using “one-time money.” That’s like if you are trying to balance your family’s budget and empty out your savings account — once the money is gone and you have to start saving again.
The balanced budget keeps Gov. Dayton’s promise to Build a Better Minnesota. While some may look at “Build a Better Minnesota” as just a campaign slogan, it’s much more than that.
You can look at the two largest areas of the state budget, education and health care, like building a foundation of a house. You want a strong foundation so the house will last for years and support your investment.
This year, Gov. Dayton and the Legislature made a historic investment in education and economic development because that’s the strong foundation our state needs.
The investments made to ensure children have access to all-day kindergarten to prepare them for success in school and success in life, an increase in K-12 education funding and significant tuition relief so more people have access to a college degree will pay off for years to come.
An educated workforce attracts employers to the state, Minnesota has the most Fortune 500 companies per capita of any state, and helps people get the jobs they need to support their families.
Gov. Dayton and DFL legislators also put money into the Minnesota Investment Fund to bring new businesses to the state, expand the businesses that are here and create thousands of new jobs in Minnesota. Additional proposals approved this session will leverage about $450 million in private investment.
I would also say that part of the strong foundation is having healthy citizens. When people have access to health care, they take care of health concerns before they get worse. People who are healthy are productive workers who can care for their families.
This year’s health and human services bill also includes a 5 percent pay increase for nursing home caregivers who have not gotten a raise in four years. This is good for the workers in our community who care for our parents and grandparents.
Once the house is built, you have to find a way to pay for it and maintain it. A state budget is no different. To help build a better Minnesota, Gov. Dayton and DFL legislators agreed to increase income tax rates on the 2 percent wealthiest Minnesotans by 2 percent — 98 percent of us will not pay any more in income taxes; for Morrison County, 74 people will see their income taxes increase — 0.50 percent of residents will pay a little more in taxes so that 100 percent of children across our state will have a better education.
Roman Witucki, Little Falls, is the chairman for the Morrison County DFL.