Before Sen. Hoffman was elected to the state legislature, Minnesota’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent; today, after nearly four years in the Minnesota Senate, that unemployment rate has dropped to 3.5 percent, among the lowest rates in the nation. One of the key elements to Sen. Hoffman’s work in the legislature has been his support for investment in job training. Here are a few of the many success stories resulting from these investments:
- Anoka-Ramsey Community College received two separate job training grants from DEED to help train employees at Faribault Food and Aspen Equipment Co. Anoka-Ramsey received $300,000 to develop training for about 302 technical operators and maintenance mechanics at Faribault Foods, which has manufacturing sites located in three Minnesota towns.
- Anoka-Ramsey was also awarded $271,310 to help Aspen Equipment Co. develop and deliver a comprehensive training program for around 125 employees – 15 of which are new. The technical training provided by the college will qualify the trainees for a number of certifications and will help Aspen Equipment maintain quality and improve productivity.
- Design Ready Controls in Brooklyn Park recently received nearly $92,000 in Pipeline Dual Training Grant money to train employees at the control panel solutions company.
Budget and Taxes
Since 2001, the budget reserve account had been statutorily capped at a maximum dollar level of $653 million. Under the new law (2014), the commissioner of MMB specifies the percentage following an annual evaluation. Additionally, legislation created a new, automatic mechanism that transfers 33 percent of future November forecast balances until the target is reached.
- Hoffman voted to make saving a priority above spending. This is a result of a portion of the surplus being dedicated before the Legislature is able to spend it. This money will be used to cushion the state when it faces a future recession. (HF 1777–2014, 3/26/2014)
Income tax fairness for 98% of Minnesotans
In 2013, Democrats did the hard work and accomplished what hadn’t been done in decades: finally delivering fairness to the tax system for middle-class Minnesota families. By voting for fair income taxes on the top 2% of earners, Sen. Hoffman helped reduced the gap that was allowing the wealthiest in our state to pay less of their income in taxes than everyone else.
Cracking down on corporate tax evasion
Sen. Hoffman voted to close more than $400 million in tax loopholes used by big corporations to avoid paying Minnesota income taxes. By cracking down on tax cheats, we raised money to help deliver millions of dollars in economic development in every corner of our state and raise responsible, stable revenue to balance the budget for the first time since 2002.
The first property tax decrease in more than a decade
Sen. Hoffman supported more than $500 million in property tax relief from 2013-2016. In 2014, average statewide property taxes in Minnesota decreased for the first time since 2002. His votes also provided property tax refund increases to homeowners, renters, senior citizens and farmers across the state.
- In 2014 alone, at least 167,000 additional Minnesotans were expected to receive property tax refunds (137,000 homeowners and 30,000 renters) and statewide property taxes were expected to decrease by $121 million in 2014, the first decrease in a decade (non-partisan Department of Revenue analysis released July 2013).
Lowering business property taxes
Sen. Hoffman voted for the 2015 tax bill that included a $69 million reduction in the statewide business property tax. He also voted for the 2016 tax bills that included additional reductions in the statewide business property tax, including a total exemption for Minnesota’s small businesses.
Eliminating the marriage penalty
Sen. Hoffman voted for the 2014 federal conformity bill, which eliminated the “marriage penalty” that cost many married couples more money on income taxes each year. Because Minnesota hadn’t conformed to the federal standard deduction for married filers since 2011, married couples had to add back an increasing amount of taxable income for Minnesota tax purposes each year — $2,050 in 2013. This bill eliminated that gap beginning with Tax Year 2014. This change was estimated to save 653,072 married Minnesotans an average $115 in taxes; 541,069 of those couples have income under $100,000.
Promoting the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA)
It is no secret that when women are on an equal playing field with men, everyone benefits. Senator Hoffman has been a long advocate for promoting women's economic security and independence in our workforce. This is why Senator Hoffman supported bill SF 2050, more commonly known as the Women’s Economic Security Act or WESA.
WESA established the nontraditional jobs grant program to increase the number of women in high-wage nontraditional occupations. Specifically, this program offers grants to organizations that encourage, assist, and provide women with tools to enter high-wage careers such as STEM where women are not as commonly hired. Similarly, WESA established the women entrepreneurs business development grant program that offers grants to businesses that are at least 51% owned by women. These grants will be used to grow women-owned businesses, provide training and mentoring to women-owned start-ups, and promote female entrepreneurship.
Other protections brought about by this bill include the creation and enforcement of equal pay certificates. This dictates that any business engaged in a contract of $500,000 or more with the government of Minnesota must have an equal pay certificate. For a business to be certified, they must show compliance with all necessary civil rights laws and that wage disparities between male and female workers are corrected when identified.
Reinstating LGA for his cities – and lowering property taxes
Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids and Champlin received $0 in Local Government Aid prior to 2013. They were some of the inner-ring suburbs mostly cut off from the LGA formula around 2004. In 2013, the DFL passed an $80 million statewide LGA increase that included significant, bipartisan-supported LGA formula reform in the final tax bill. Sen. Hoffman ultimately supported this bill, which brought his three cities back onto the LGA formula and delivered state money to help control local property taxes. Because of his efforts, his cities received the following LGA from 2013-2016:
- Brooklyn Park: $3.35 million
- Coon Rapids: $3.12 million
- Champlin: $700,000