Governor Mark Dayton

Duluth News Tribune - Our View: Lots to Like in Early City of Duluth Budget

Say what? Duluth’s tax base is expanding? The popular narrative for decades in Duluth — ever since U.S. Steel closed followed by nearly every other smokestack industry — is that our city is on a decline. Fewer and fewer of us pay more and more in taxes just to keep afloat. But now, tax base growth? The numbers tell a different story?

“It’s a good thing,” Duluth Mayor Don Ness acknowledged of the modest, almost flat, but nonetheless a-move-in-a-positive-direction $170,000 increase in property tax collections due to economic development and the reality that more businesses and residents are paying in now and shouldering more of the property tax burden.

Perhaps the mayor can afford to be matter-of-fact because his budget has plenty for taxpayers and others in the city to like. Those two items were just the beginning. Here’s one that even made headlines: no increase in the overall property tax levy, a proposal for 2014 that can be cheered by everyone who owns property in Duluth.

“(It’s possible) because the state of Minnesota stepped up with an increase in (Local Government Aid of $1.6 million) with the express purpose of addressing property taxes,” Ness explained. “We’re honoring the intent of the state.” [Read More]

New Ulm Journal - LGA Boost Gives Sleepy Eye Options for 2014 Budget

The Sleepy Eye City Council received a report Tuesday from City Manager Mark Kober on the possibility that property taxes could be reduced in the next budget due to a windfall in Local Government Aid (LGA) funding.

In the 2013 session, the Minnesota Legislature passed a $80 million increase in LGA funding as well as a reform of the LGA funding mechanisms. Those measures translated into an additional $150,000 in funding for Sleepy Eye.

The increased funding is particularly important because approximately 50 percent of the city's total budget comes from state aid. [Read More]

July 11, 2013  |  News Alerts

Chanhassen Villager - District Prepares for All-Day Kindergarten Increase

District 112 officials are bracing for an increase in all-day kindergarten students, after the Minnesota Legislature passed funding for the measure last session.

Officials think the new funding will make the optional all-day kindergarten more attractive to families because there will no longer be a fee. “We anticipate we will have more children attending, we just don’t know [how many] yet,” said DeeDee Kahring, director of finance and operations.

The all-day kindergarten funding was passed as part of an omnibus education finance bill. The total state appropriation for all-day kindergarten funding is $134 million, according to Scott Croonquist, executive director of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts. 

The funding is optional for districts, but if they take it they must offer full-day kindergarten as an option at no charge to families. [Read More]

MinnPost - 2013 Has Been a Banner Year for Minnesota Children's Mental Health

At the beginning of the 2013 legislative session, there was a lot of discussion about how to prevent mass shootings, driven in large part by the tragedies at Accent Signage and Newtown, Conn. There were calls for changes in gun laws and in the mental-health system. With the session concluded there has been surprisingly little coverage on what the Legislature did to improve the mental-health system. This is troubling because it seems as if the only attention paid to the mental-health system is when it doesn’t work. People need to know that things are changing in order to have hope for the future.

The 2013 session was actually a banner year for children’s mental health. Focus needed to be here because half of all adults with a serious mental illness begin exhibiting symptoms before the age of 14. If we wait until they are adults, we have waited too long. These efforts were kicked off in February with a press conference filled with legislators and advocates and the subsequent introduction of 12 bills. There were about 29 provisions in those bills, and 17 of them passed. Yet none of the successes was covered by the media.

Included in the governor’s budget, the funding was increased 50 percent for the first year and 100 percent for the second year of the biennium. These grants to mental-health providers who deliver treatment in our schools have proven to decrease the barriers faced by children in accessing mental-health treatment and to improve outcomes. [Read MoreBookmark and Share

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