An even-numbered session is traditionally considered a bonding year, and much of the focus this session was on passing a bonding bill. There was also a $329 million budget surplus for the 2018-2019 biennium, so lawmakers worked to determine how best to spend that surplus; and the federal government passed new federal tax law changes, so Minnesota needed to pass legislation to adjust its tax code to these federal changes.
With just three months for legislators to put together a bonding package, a supplemental budget bill and tax conformity bill, among others, the Legislature passed all three of these major bills in the remaining days of session, but did so without a global agreement with Governor Dayton.
The 2018 legislative session ended just before midnight Sunday, May 20 with no certainty that Dayton will sign any of the bills. While Dayton hasn’t revealed his thoughts on the bonding bill, he did say he intends to veto the supplemental budget bill and the tax bill. Governor Dayton must sign or veto the bills within 14 days after adjournment of the Legislature. If a bill is not signed in that 14-day window, it does not become law.
As the outcome of the below bills becomes known, the government relations team will provide updates.
Legislators and Gov. Dayton’s administration traveled many miles around the state to learn more about the bonding projects, including many visits to Minnesota State campuses. In January, Gov. Dayton came out with a $1.5 billion bonding bill that included $274.5 million, $50 million more than Minnesota State’s request of $224.5 million. The House and Senate put together bonding packages totaling $825 million, but choose to fund different projects. The House included $122.8 million for Minnesota State and the Senate included $120.2 million.
After the Senate was unable to pass their bonding bill off the floor, legislators put together a larger bonding bill in the final hours of session, and passed it out of conference committee. The compromise bonding bill between the Senate and the House adds up to a nearly $1.57 billion package, including $825 million in general obligation bonding. It also includes $416.6 million in trunk highway bonding, $63 million in user financing, nearly $45.83 million in environment and natural resources trust fund appropriations and $41.25 million in general fund spending.
The bill includes $129 million for Minnesota State, of which $45 million is for asset preservation, or HEAPR, and the remaining $84 million is for individual capital projects on various campuses (see below).
In the final hour of session, the bill passed the House by a vote of 113-17, and the Senate passed it by a vote of 42-25. The bill is now awaiting a decision by Governor Dayton.
The individual projects funded in the bill for Minnesota State are:
- Bemidji State University: Academic Learning Center
- Rochester Community and Technical College: Memorial and Plaza Halls
- Minnesota State University, Mankato: Clinical Sciences Phase II
- Anoka-Ramsey Community College: Nursing and Business
- Century College: Applied Technology Center
- Normandale Community College: Classroom and Student Services
- Minnesota State University Moorhead: Weld Hall
- Inver Hills Community College: Technology and Business Center
- Riverland Community College: Transportation, Trade and Industrial Education Center
- Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College: Maajiigi
The bonding bill also includes the environment and natural resources trust fund projects, which includes $325,000 for St. Cloud State University to evaluate the effectiveness of best management practices in removing contaminants from storm water to safeguard aquatic habitats.
There is also language in the bonding bill that appropriates $500,000 in both fiscal year 2020 and 2021 to the commissioner of administration for a grant to any Minnesota higher education institution or municipal joint powers organization to review water quality regulations and national pollutant discharge elimination system permits.
Throughout session, the different finance committees put together individual supplemental budget bills that were rolled into one large supplemental budget bill. Each committee was provided a target for new spending to work with. The higher education target started at $5 million and ended up at $3 million in new spending for all of higher education.
Legislative leaders and Governor Dayton did not have an agreement on an overall spending bill. Gov. Dayton sent conferees a long list of objections he had with the spending bill in the final days of session and conferees changed or deleted many of them in an attempt at compromise. The Legislature passed the large supplemental budget bill without an agreement with the Governor. Dayton has said publicly he intends to veto the bill. Below is a summary of what’s included in the bill as it relates to higher education.
The higher education supplemental funding overall is $4 million (all one-time funds). $3 million of that is appropriated to Minnesota State for campus support. There is an additional $1 million of surplus funding available from the college occupational scholarship pilot program administered by the Office of Higher Education. That surplus is appropriated as follows:
- $500,000 to Minnesota State for renewal of workforce development scholarships
- $300,000 to the Office of Higher Education for the State Grant program
- $100,000 to the Office of Higher Education for the Agricultural Educators Loan Forgiveness program
- $50,000 to the Office of Higher Education for the Student Loan Debt Counseling program
- $50,000 to the Office of Higher Education for a Teacher Preparation Program Design Grant
Also included in the bill is language regarding developing a textbook plan. Minnesota State is required to develop a plan to increase the use of affordable textbooks and instructional materials. The plan must establish a goal for the percentage of all courses offered at state colleges and universities that will use affordable textbooks and instructional materials.
There is also language that expands the list of provisions that must be included in an institution’s sexual assault policy by adding a requirement the policy provide for notice to a sexual assault victim regarding available legal resources.
The bill establishes a program administered by the Office of Higher Education to provide grants to qualified organizations offering student loan debt repayment counseling.
There is also language that allows for the Office of Higher Education to make a grant to an institution of higher education to explore, design, and plan for a teacher preparation program leading to licensure as a teacher of the blind or visually impaired.
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