Updated: October 14, 2020 11:07 PM
Created: October 14, 2020 11:02 PM
The Minnesota House of Representatives approved legislation late Wednesday night with a final vote of 100 to 34, sending the $1.9 billion jobs and infrastructure bonding bill to the Minnesota Senate on Thursday.
According to a release from the Minnesota House, the bill poses a major boon to the state's economy at a time when the unemployment rate is stuck at historically high levels due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. House Republicans had previously blocked passage of similar jobs bills in May and July.
"We listened to Minnesotans who have been asking for our help," said House Capital Investment Chair Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown). "This economic stimulus bill connects Minnesotans to other Minnesotans, addresses critical public infrastructure needs across the state, and will create thousands of jobs at a time when they are sorely needed. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to this important jobs and local projects and economic development package."
According to the most recent data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate stands at 7.9% and job gains were lower than expected in September.
"All Minnesotans deserve safe, healthy, and inclusive communities," said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. "At a time when Minnesota's economy is suffering extreme stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that the state legislature do everything it can to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. This bill will create jobs and provide projects our communities need."
The economic development legislation contains a large investment of funds in public safety and health renovations, repairs and replacement of public assets like higher education institutions, clean water infrastructure, correctional facilities, roads and bridges, parks and trails, municipal buildings and more.
Notably, the new bill released Wednesday contains $116 million to fund affordable housing projects. For the first time in legislative history, the Minnesota House says $30 million is being allocated to help improve and promote equity in communities across the state.
Data from public health officials from around the country show that COVID-19 is impacting people of color at disproportionate rates.
"Minnesotans are asking the Legislature to invest in the things that will help them weather these difficult times and thrive when the pandemic ends," said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. "This legislation will save and create thousands of jobs across our state, support our working families, and help build a better future for all Minnesotans."
The bill also includes supplemental budget investments in Direct Care and Treatment programs at the Department of Human Services, Department of Corrections funding that will allow the Willow River and Togo correctional facilities to remain open, funding to ensure untested rape kits get tested to bring sexual predators to justice, and temporary pay increases for personal care assistants who care for vulnerable Minnesotans.
"We've sent the Minnesota Senate an excellent bill that is going to boost our economy and improve the quality of life for people across our state," said Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth), who authored the portion of the bill that cuts taxes for farmers and small businesses
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