“The bill would give roughly half of the surplus back to the taxpayers in the form of rebate checks. It would be $4,400 for a married couple filing jointly and half of that for individual taxpayers,” said Senator Kruen (R).
That bill hasn’t gotten anywhere just yet. In the House, Representative Matt Norris of Blaine thinks that tax relief could come in other ways.
“When I talk about the surplus, I say let’s focus on what’s going to generate the biggest and longest return on investment for the state of Minnesota,” said Representative Norris (DFL). “I think three main areas: infrastructure, housing, and education.”
Regardless of rebate checks both of these legislators have ideas to help schools.
“We’re talking about fully funding our public schools, That means we have to do a couple of things because different schools have different needs,” said Representative Norris. “I’m carrying the bill that would increase the general formula that’s the per people amount that each school gets across the state.”
“Increasing the amount we spend on special education in our schools,” said Senator Kreun. “There’s an opportunity to do that. That’s a priority in our caucus.”
And there’s a potential for schools to get more money for meals.
“Free school lunch is something that I was working on even back when I was an advocate, before I joined the legislature. On balance it’s something that I think just makes a lot of sense,” said Representative Norris.
He cited other services in public education that are available to everyone at no direct cost – like school buses and textbooks – as a comparative example of giving services to all students, regardless of family income.
National Sports Center
There’s also the potential for growth at the National Sports Center. Senator Kreun authored a bill in the Senate to build the National Rugby Center. It would include dedicated rugby fields as well as an adaptive sports complex.
“I think that would be a tremendous asset for Blaine. We’d become a hub for rugby in North America. The adaptive part of that would be great too. In my understanding this would be one of the few facilities like that in the world,” said Senator Kreun.
Representative Norris is authoring the companion bill for the National Rugby Center in the House.
Highway 65 Teamwork
As they work on these issues, they both agree there’s another issue it’s even more urgent.
“First and foremost I would like to see the money go to Highway 65,” said Senator Kreun.
“I think we’re going to get something done this year,” said Representative Norris. “We’re asking for $130 million. That would allow us to eliminate all the stoplights from 99th to 117th.”
“We’re having conversations with MnDOT, bringing them into the conversation,” said Senator Kreun. “It’s a very big price tag, so it’s going to take a concerted effort and a lot of cooperation and collaboration to get it done but I remain optimistic.”
“I’m really working hard with my colleagues here in the House, like Representative West and in the Senate Senator Kreun to make sure that we’re bringing those tax dollars back home to the north metro and fixing – what is not just an inconvenience – but really a danger here in our district,” said Representative Norris.
“The odds are good that we’ll get some funding for Highway 65, hopefully enough to get that project going and then the momentum builds on itself and we get it done sooner rather than later,” said Senator Kreun.
This legislative session wraps up in May so there are several more weeks to get things done.