Rep. Jay McNamar: Momentum in greater Minnesota
This year’s short session is moving along at a rapid pace, and every day continues the progress we’re making for the state of Minnesota. Because the legislature has paid back schools and balanced the state budget, we’ve been able to really devote ourselves to expanding economic opportunity for working people in every part of the state. I’m pleased to share that earlier this week Minnesota House DFL members unveiled our priority budget bills to continue improving Greater Minnesota and build on the momentum that our state continues to experience from this economic recovery.
Among those bills is a piece of legislation I authored to supplement the West Central Initiative Foundation’s small business revolving loan fund (HF 2988). With this $1 million one-time increase in funding, the WCI Foundation would be able to help more small businesses in West Central Minnesota get started and make investments in our rural communities.
Other measures in the Greater Minnesota legislative package include $40 million in additional property tax relief for homeowners, renters, and family farmers for 2014. We are proposing to increase immediate property tax relief by $15 million to over 75,000 family farms. The average family farmer would see a total of $490 in property tax relief under the bill. There are also bills to help homeowners and renters who live in town with additional property tax relief, as well as bill I presented last week to restore aid to 11 Minnesota counties that didn’t see an increase in County Program Aid due to the effects of high ag land values on the formula.
There is also be a bill addressing the lack of broadband access throughout much of the state, and a bill increasing connections between family farmers and local food shelves, so that local farmers will be compensated for supplying surplus crops and food shelves will have access to nutritious options for low-income families and seniors.
With all that, I’m optimistic about the good work we’re doing in St. Paul for West Central Minnesota. Our state is fortunate to have a skilled and resilient workforce, and the legislation we’re working on aims to expand economic opportunity for everyone in Minnesota. We have been blessed in our region to have some of the lowest unemployment numbers in the state, and Minnesota as a whole has just seen it’s sixth straight month of job growth. Our state exports were up during the fourth quarter of last year by six percent. You might be wondering what was the biggest area of export growth? Machinery. Some of that machinery is manufactured right here in our region! These businesses and their subsidiaries employ thousands of workers in the seven counties that make up our district.