2017 Legislative Special Session Continues
Although legislative leaders and Governor Dayton had hoped to conclude the 2017 Special Legislative Session by 7:00 a.m. today, it appears that the special session will continue as the final details of remaining budget bills are negotiated and processed.Lawmakers worked through Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. Governor Dayton and legislative leaders continued to meet Wednesday to work through issues.
A brief summary of five major budget bills and bonding bill is below.
Around 8:00 a.m. the $990 million bonding bill was posted (spreadsheet can be found HERE). Even though odd-numbered years are budget years, the rumblings of a bonding bill permeated this year’s session. In this year’s bonding bill, Minnesota State received $25 million to address HEAPR needs on campus and the following projects:
- South Central College, North Mankato -STEM and Healthcare Renovation
- Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Fergus Falls – Center for Student Success
- Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Wadena – Library and Student Development Renovation
- Northland Community and Technical College, East Grand Forks – Laboratory Renovation
- Hibbing Community College – Campus Rightsizing
- Winona State University – Education Village Phase II
- St. Cloud State University – Student Health and Academic Renovation
The Omnibus Tax bill was passed by the House in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The bill, which was unveiled on Tuesday evening, is comprised of $650 million in tax relief – down from $1.15 billion from the initial bill passed by the House and Senate earlier this month that was vetoed by Governor Dayton. The final bill contains a large increase in County Program Aid, a student loan tax credit, and relief aimed toward those paying taxes on Social Security benefits. The Senate passed a similar bill, but added new language allowing for bars to stay open past 4:00 a.m. for when the Super Bowl is in Minneapolis next year. This means the House will have to vote again on this bill because of the new language added.
The E-12 bill was also debated in each body. The House passed the bill earlier in the day while the Senate tabled discussion of the bill to continue discussing changes with the governor. One of the key features of the bill is a 2% increase in the per-pupil formula for school districts for the next two fiscal years. It also contains $50 million for a pre-Kindergarten program called “School Readiness Plus” – a top priority for the governor. Because the Senate added new language to the bill, it will have to go back to the House for a vote assuming the changes remain intact upon final passage by the Senate.
The House also passed a Transportation funding bill which brings new dollars into transportation funding through the re-purposing of $300 million from the general fund from automobile-related sales tax revenue and authorizing $940 million in borrowing over four years. The bill does not raise new revenue from constitutionally-dedicated sources to fund roads and bridges, like a gas tax or vehicle registration fees. It also prohibits state dollars from going toward the operating costs for future light rail lines. The Senate will act upon this bill next.
The Minnesota Senate passed legislation that would prohibit local units of government from setting their own labor and wage policies (known as preemption). In an attempt to get Governor Dayton to sign the bill, Republicans also included pension reform, wage theft protections, and paid family leave for state workers. Governor Dayton has said publicly he would veto this legislation.
So far, both the House and Senate have passed identical bills for Agriculture, Higher Education, Legacy, Environment, Jobs, and Public Safety. Other bills that still need action by both chambers include Health & Human Services, State Government Finance, and Capital Investment. Legislative leaders are waiting for all of these bills to pass before presenting them to Governor Dayton.
Both chambers adjourned this evening and will re-convene at 12:00 p.m. Thursday with the hope of passing the remaining bills.