In our first week back from the Easter break, we are hard at work getting our budget bills in order. Each committee has their own budget target that shapes which programs get passed through the House. This means there is a lot of multitasking over the next several weeks to get a budget that puts Minnesota on a path to succeed over the next two years.
And while there are many areas of the budget that I will be working on, one of the biggest impacts we may see is in the area of jobs and economic development. During the previous biennium, they cut funding for jobs and economic development. This year, we will add over $46 million to the jobs budget to help businesses create jobs in our communities. There are numerous pieces to our jobs budget, but the common theme that exists between all of them is the way the state works to help private businesses either start up or expand their operations. We know that private businesses play a huge role in creating jobs and building a strong economy, and our role in the Legislature is to help those businesses create those jobs so we can help our local communities. Whether it be the $20 million in new funding for grants and loans or the $18.5 million for the Department of Employment and Economic Development to use as incentives for businesses to set up shop in Minnesota. We are working hard to bring more jobs to Minnesota and I believe these programs will do it.
I also wanted to touch briefly on the cuts that have been announced for the Health and Human Services budget. This area of our budget is easily one of our largest. At over $11 billion it’s over a quarter of the whole budget. That said, I’m very concerned that our long term care and human services workers are not being compensated for their hard work. And if we are going to give responsible raises to these workers in our communities we need to make it a priority. This past week the chairs of the Health and Human Services Committees and our House leadership made a commitment to making those raises a priority and ensuring that their pay does not get cut again. The $150 million in cuts to the budget will be found by making programs more efficient and eliminating waste where there is any. I will be fighting for the workers in our communities and letting people know that they deserve fair compensation for their hard work. I’ll keep you up to date as more specific decisions are made on this issue.
As we get into the last couple months of the session, I encourage you to contact me with any concerns or ideas you might have to move Minnesota in the right direction. It will be a very busy time figuring out the budget for our state but I will always make time to talk to some neighbors from the district!