Last week the Republican Legislative Majority and Governor Dayton worked out the final details of the budget. The approved budget agreement for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013 is $34.3 billion, which is $0.3 billion more than the Senate’s proposed budget spending. We had great success in turning off the autopilot features that increased our government spending. This lowered the budget forecasts and expectations to a more realistic and sustainable level. A special session was called Tuesday, July 19th at 3:00PM and adjourned sine die early Wednesday morning. The House and Senate passed all the budget bills that the Governor has now signed and made into law.
TRANSPORTATION: $4.74 billion As the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I am proud to say that we passed a fiscally responsible transportation bill that spends $54.5 million less than the proposal that was offered by Governor Dayton. Included in the bill is over $4.7 billion for state/local roads, bridges and public safety. Of that money, $2.5 billion is related to the construction and maintenance of our state’s trunk highway system, while $1.5 billion goes towards county roads and city streets. In addition, over $140 million will be directed to pavement surface preservation and road surface quality. In regard to transit funding, the bill focuses on preserving current systems. The bill also requires that an annual report be provided identifying any state agency or local unit of government that presents a request to the Legislature to obtain state funds for a fixed guideway system. The financial plans must include any capital expenditures for the project, with a breakdown by committed and proposed sources of funding. Lastly, the annual report must include the cost for all guideway lines for which state funds are reasonably expected to be spent during the next ten years.
TAXES: $2.9 billion The newly elected majority kept their promise and did not allow any tax increases this session. Governor Dayton started the session with a $4.1 billion tax increase that would have made Minnesota an outlier in economic competitiveness, job creation, and business development. A reason for not supporting a tax increase is because we do not believe that the solution to solving government’s problem is by taxing the people of Minnesota. The solution is to create government reform that forces government to live within its means just like our families have to. The tax bill provides direct tax relief to homeowners, farms and small businesses. It also has sales tax exemption for townships and public safety water. In addition, it minimizes cuts to local government aid and provides tax incentives for job creation.
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: $11.3 billion The HHS bill significantly reforms the way public health care is carried out in Minnesota. It establishes a public health care system that is affordable and sustainable and limits the growth of public health care. At the same time, the bill recognizes the ability of everyone to make decisions about their own health care. The bill preserves funding for the elderly and the disabled, while reaching the target of $1.049 billion. In addition, there is an overall increase of $26 million in nursing home funding. One of the most significant components of the Health and Human Services budget agreement is the overall FY 14-15 future spending obligations (tails) reduction. Tails spending was reduced from a projected 10.6 percent increase to a 4.8 percent increase. Total tails reduction equal $1.82 billion from the General Fund. Other significant reforms include the repeal of the provider tax, prevention of welfare fraud by strengthening welfare eligibility requirements, and placing greater restrictions on the use of EBT cards. The bill also provides flexibility to ensure effective, quality, and accessible health care.
STATE GOVERNMENT: $818.9 million This Session, the new majority in the legislature fulfilled their promise and laid the foundation for long-term cost savings. We changed how state government operates and delivers services. This bill includes a pay-for-performance pilot project, cost-saving reward programs, and has a consolidation of services. It also requires performance reviews of state employees and audits. The state will also work with the federal government for greater debt collection and with private agencies for efficiency detection. And, we will require contract business to verify citizenship through the E-verify service.
HIGHER EDUCATION: $2.565 billion The Higher Education bill includes reforms that will require the U of M and MnSCU institutions to meet performance benchmarks before they can receive a portion of their funding. Also, it increases funding for work study and made no reductions to the need-based state grant program and post-secondary child care grants.
EDUCATION: $13.6 billion Given the new funding being provided to education, my colleagues and I insisted on several reform measures in order to do more than “business as usual.” The Education Bill includes reforms such as providing mandate relief sought by school district and school administrator associations. We repealed the contract settlement deadline and penalty and the safe schools levy maintenance of effort restriction. We also provided a two-year extension of the relief from requiring local districts to spend two percent of their basic revenue on staff development. In addition, Integration Revenue will end after FY 2013 and new Literacy Incentive Aid and increased investment in the MN Reading Corps will require school districts to “earn” these funds through student reading test scores in the early elementary. Early Graduation Scholarships will allow students who are academically capable and hard-working to complete their high school education early and to take the funds that would have been spent on them for additional schooling to the college of their choice.
JOBS/ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: $170.3 million This bill generates reform in the area of economic development with the creation of competitive grants rather than the bureaucratic process of pass-through grants (legislative earmarking) and has start-up capital directed toward small businesses.
ENVIRONMENT, ENERGY & COMMERCE: $252.704 million The Environment Finance bill funds priorities without any fee or tax increases. It addresses critical issues including aquatic invasive species and chronic waste disease, as well as provides budget flexibility to maintain Minnesota’s strong tradition of outdoor heritage. This bill requires state agencies to review water management, and streamline and consolidate water programs. It also reforms the state tree nursery program by taking them out of competition with the private sector.
JUDICIARY/PUBLIC SAFETY: $1.807 billion During tough budget times, we have to make core services, like courts and public safety, a priority. In this bill, we accomplished reforms including the following: allowing judges to consider a person’s entire financial picture and require appropriate payment for these services as clients are able to pay; requiring a co-pay for prison inmate initiated health care; authorizing counties to reimburse costs of medical services to local prisoners at the medical assistance rate rather than the negotiated provider rate; and prioritizing the use of state funds on state cases over federal cases.
BONDING: $497 million The bonding bill met statewide and regional criteria. It stresses long-term needs, not short-term wants, and focuses on flood relief, roads and infrastructure. No funding went toward convention centers or stadiums. Most of the funding went toward asset preservation, roads and bridges, Reinvest in Minnesota, and flood hazard mitigation.
AGRICULTURE: $76.601 million This bill prioritizes funding to maintain the integrity and safety of the food supply in Minnesota. Also, there is no reduction in funding for retail food handling and meatpacking inspections.
You can find more detailed information on these bills here: www.senate.mn/2011_first_special_session_bills/index.php
MY BILLS: In addition to my $4.74 billion Omnibus Transportation Finance Bill, I worked on multiple bills that were signed into law that benefit and strengthen Senate District 13 and the State of Minnesota. Below is a list of some of those bills I was an author of.
Grass Lake received $1,614,000 in the bonding bill. This funding will help with the rerouting of County Ditch 23A, constructing of water control structures, and planting of vegetation in order to restore Grass Lake prairie wetland basin adjacent to the city of Willmar.
Pope/Douglas Solid Waste Joint Powers Board will receive $550,000 to improve access to and to design, construct, furnish, and equip an expansion of the Pope/Douglas materials recovery facility located in Alexandria under the solid waste capital assistance grants program.
A Stadium Liquor License was passed into law which authorizes cities to issue a license for a stadium or ballpark for the purpose of summer collegiate league baseball games.
Click on “Session” and “Special Session” to view the list of bills I was an author of: