ST PETER — The Minnesota Legislature is scheduled to begin debating the large spending bills Monday that will make up the next two-year state budget. A couple of the key players in that process held something of a pep rally Friday in St. Peter in anticipation of the upcoming big budget week.
The House’s proposed $800 million construction legislation and a separate economic development bill were the focus of the meeting, which will be repeated in Duluth, Brainerd, St. Cloud, Rochester and Albert Lea in coming days.
St. Paul Rep. Tim Mahoney, the principal architect of the House jobs and economic development funding bill, said the DFL-controlled House is proposing a 34 percent increase in programs aimed at boosting assistance to job-creating businesses, training workers for high-demand jobs and other initiatives.
“When you put ’em all together and you put the bonding bill in there, we are doing everything possible to help the Minnesota economy,” Mahoney said.
Because of the productivity of Minnesota’s workforce and the state’s quality of life, Minnesota is thriving economically compared to neighboring states and doesn’t need to provide as many direct incentives to induce businesses to locate here, Mahoney said.
“We don’t have to do that,” he said. “What we have to do is be in the game.”
That means a $20 million appropriation for the Minnesota Investment fund, about six times what was previously put into the program that provides financial incentives to out-of-state companies looking to come here and local companies looking to expand.
Republicans, who lost control of both the House and Senate in the 2012 general election, have criticized DFL leaders — including Gov. Mark Dayton — for proposing tax increases to fund their spending bills.
Mahoney, who will lead off the week of budget debates in the House, said he’s confident his bill will have the votes to pass. Asked if he expected many Republican votes, Mahoney said: “I never expect, I only hope.”