By the bill: A summary of the budget sessionHere is a look at bills the Minnesota Legislature passed during its special session, called to fund state government for two years
By: Don Davis, State Capitol Bureau
ST. PAUL -- Here is a look at bills the Minnesota Legislature passed during its special session, called to fund state government for two years:
-- Health and human services --
$11.4 billion, about $1 billion more than the last budget. No one receiving health care should lose services. The tax Minnesotans pay health-care providers is due to expire in 2019. Tobacco bonds approaching $700 million are used to fund some of the programs. The bonds come from borrowed money to be repaid with proceeds from a tobacco lawsuit settlement. Small, rural nursing homes receive a 15 percent rate increase and rural pharmacies get 4 percent more.
-- Education --
$13.6 billion. The bill increases per-pupil funding and programs that encourage reading by third grade. It ends integration aid in 2013 and requires teacher and principal evaluation systems to be established. It repeals law that established a penalty for not negotiating a union contract by Jan. 15.
-- Higher education --
$2.6 billion. While total spending is up $60 million from earlier bills, University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities budgets are down 10.5 percent from the last budget. Colleges and universities must meet performance benchmarks, such as increasing graduation rates, before getting some of the money. Community and technical college tuition increases are limited to 4 percent. A provision to restrict human cloning in an earlier bill was removed.
-- Environment, outdoors --
$252 million. Bill funds Department of Natural Resources, Pollution Control Agency, Commerce Department, Public Utilities Commission and related agencies.
-- State government --
$905 million. Bill funds many state agencies, including the governor and other statewide officials’ offices. Controversial provisions were removed from earlier bills, including cutting the state workforce 15 percent by 2015, but it would require a 6 percent reduction by 2013. Legislature, governor, attorney general, auditor and secretary of state office spending cut 5 percent. Many other agencies and grantees cut 5 percent to 15 percent. Veterans and military programs’ funding rises. A proposed salary freeze was not included.
-- Public safety-courts --
$1.8 billion. While the total is a 3 percent decrease from last budget, the compromise bill represents more money for civil legal services, public defenders, Human Rights Department, Corrections Department and other programs than in the earlier Legislature-passed budget. Bill increases inmate co-pays for health care, lowers county prisoner medical care costs and makes other reforms.
-- Jobs-economic development --
$170 million. A $15.9 million increase from legislative bills allows the Minnesota Trade Office to remain open and continues employment and housing programs for the extremely poor, mentally ill and disabled. Bill funds Department of Employment and Economic Development.
-- Transportation --
$4.7 billion (most from taxes dedicated to transportation, but $126 million from general fund). Twin Cities and greater Minnesota transit funding reduced, but not as much as bills Legislature originally passed. Passenger rail office to continue; earlier bills ended it.
-- Taxes --
$2.9 billion. While no new state taxes are included in the bill, the tax bill does include state aids paid to cities and counties. Local Government Aid and County Program Aid payments that were due today will be delayed by at least a week. Duluth, St. Paul and Minneapolis will retain Local Government aid, which GOP bills had eliminated. The bill also keeps $60 million in the Douglas Johnson economic development fund and the taconite state aid program that earlier bills removed.
-- Agriculture --
$76.6 million. The only bill to pass and be signed during the regular legislative session funds many agriculture programs.
-- Legacy --
$180 million for clean water. $87 million for outdoors. $80 million for parks and trails. $105 million for culture and arts. The legacy bill is not part of the regular budget; instead, projects that it funds for clean water, outdoors and arts are funded by a sales tax increase voters approved in 2008. The bill drops a provision lawmakers earlier approved to exempt the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council from open meeting laws.
-- Bonding --
$498 million. The University of Minnesota will receive $89 million and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system $98 million, mostly for building renovations. Another $103 million is slated for the Department of Natural Resources, nearly half of which is for flood prevention.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.