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Heintzeman looks back on 2015 session

State Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, on Thursday heralded state money for rural nursing homes and education following the close of the regular 2015 session.

State Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, on Thursday heralded state money for rural nursing homes and education following the close of the regular 2015 session.

"With divided government, neither party will get everything they want. It's about negotiating a reasonable balance between differing values," Heintzeman said in a news release. "Government should not grow faster than Minnesota family budgets and our budget reflects that belief as we make investments in our rural nursing homes and education without raising taxes. Additionally, I am encouraged that we were able to ensure that Minnesotans were not burdened by a regressive and damaging increase in our gas tax."

Additional highlights of the budget Heintzeman noted in the release include:

• $138 million for nursing homes to implement a statewide rate of reimbursement.

• $52 million for child protection services, $44 million of which will go directly to counties for staffing for child maltreatment, $6 million will provide grants for early intervention services to reduce disparities in child protection, and $2 million in funds for additional DHS staff and administrative costs

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• $400 million in additional education funding, 72 percent of which goes directly onto the student formula (1.5 percent in FY 16, 2 percent in FY 17)

• $60 million to prioritize early learners with funding for pre-k scholarships and school readiness aid

• $16.5 million for avian flu assistance

• $3.5 million for the Reading Corps program

• $17 million for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs for state veterans' homes

• $12.5 million for local road repairs in cities of less than 5,000 individuals

• Provisions aimed at boosting agriculture education, including an agriculture teacher preparation program at Southwest Minnesota State University, the development and teaching of online agriculture classes by faculty at schools that offer farm business management education and a pilot program to help veterans transition into agriculture-related jobs.

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