Legislative Notebook: DFL Seeks More Money In Jobs Programs

By Don Davis

House Democrats want to increase jobs-related funding by $46 million in the next two years.

Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, chairman of the Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee, unveiled his plan Wednesday, featuring $20 million for the Minnesota Investment Fund. The fund provides businesses financing in an effort to create jobs around the state.

“These investments are going to move Minnesota in the right direction by putting people back to work,” Mahoney said. “One of our priorities this session is help create jobs, and the Minnesota Investment Fund is a great example of how the public and private sector can work together to create jobs across our state.”

Another fund would get an $18 million boost to help firms make capital investments.

Also in Mahoney’s bill are $1.5 million for the Minnesota Trade Office to help create business relationships, $5 million to help train people to start a business and $2 million for the Minnesota Film and TV Board.

Lawmakers work together

Nearly two dozen state lawmakers are proving they can work together.

A new group, Legislators Uniting to Volunteer, was launched Wednesday by Reps. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, and Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie. Their goal is to provide legislative volunteer opportunities starting next year.

Some of the lawmakers got a jump-start Wednesday night when they volunteered at the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul. The legislators prepared and served an evening snack, laid down mats and did some cleaning.

The Dorothy Day Center provides hot meals, mental health services, medical care and much more to the homeless.

“At a time when partisanship is high and people are divided, we wanted to work together, build relationships with our colleagues and communities and make a positive difference in people’s lives,” Ward said. “We do a lot of talking at the Legislature and encouraging people to be active in their communities and volunteer. It’s time for us to walk the walk and do some direct, positive work in our communities.”

Health programs ‘complex’

Minnesota’s health programs for the poor, elderly and disabled are too difficult to understand, the state’s human services director said.

Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration says it is trying to change that.

“While our public health programs provide needed coverage, they are too complex,” Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said. “These proposals will help streamline our system and leverage federal health reform in a way that is good for our enrollees and taxpayers.”

Legislative committees are looking at administration proposals to streamline the programs.

The proposals would allow single adults making $15,000 to $23,000 to receive MinnesotaCare’s state-subsidized insurance.

The state estimates that by 2016, MinnesotaCare will cover 160,000 more Minnesotans and be 95 percent federally funded.

The department also will present a proposal to streamline Medicaid eligibility.