The Minnesota Senate passed the State Government and Elections omnibus budget bill on Monday, April 26.
Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said the bill focuses on good governance, eliminating waste, promoting fair and free elections, and advancing support for Minnesota veterans.
He added the bill contains comprehensive funding for the two-year state government budget, which highlights the implementation of government efficiencies to rein in spending while continuing to function at its highest capacity. Ingebrigtsen said it also provides improvements to election security that will increase integrity and transparency in Minnesota elections.
“Senate Republicans are committed to ensuring that government services are delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible,” Ingebrigtsen said in a news release. “This budget ensures that Minnesota’s state government lives within its means while also focusing on election integrity, data protection.”
The implementation of provisional ballots is highlighted and prioritized in the budget, according to Ingebrigtsen.
"Minnesota is one of only three states in the nation that do not provide provisional ballots on Election Day," Ingebrigtsen said. "Provisional ballots are a safe, easy measure, broadly accepted across the nation, to ensure each vote is treated equally and counted in a timely manner. Provisional ballots also prevent ineligible individuals, such as those serving a felony sentence, non-U.S. citizens, or those who do not meet residency requirements, from participating in the election and marginalizing their neighbor’s ballots."
The budget is also focused on eliminating "government bloat" by finding areas in the budget that have been misused, underused, or have become more efficient, Ingebrigtsen said. "It is important to continuously audit the government to ensure Minnesotans’ tax dollars are being well-spent," he said.
This section of the bill, Ingebrigtsen said, includes several provisions to fund the state government without going over budget, such as:
Limiting the number of state employees based on the state’s population.
Reducing funding to agencies for positions that are unfilled after 180 days.
Providing equitable geographic distribution of state employee layoffs.
Selling the unused state-owned COVID morgue in St. Paul.
Restoring and repatriating the Christopher Columbus statue to the Capitol grounds.
The bill expands availability for dental services in veterans’ homes, establishes adult daycare programs, stabilizes housing initiatives, and recognizes Veterans Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day. "There is also money for a Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs publicity representative, which will provide a voice for our veterans," Ingebrigtsen said.
"Regardless of at what point our veterans are at, it is our duty to make sure that they receive support, treatment, and care they need to have the best opportunities in life,” Ingebrigtsen said.