This was a busy week for Governor Mark Dayton. On Monday, the House of Representatives and Senate held a joint session to hear the Governor’s annual State of the State Address. The evening took a startling twist when the Governor fainted towards the end of the speech. On Tuesday, he released his proposed budget for the next biennium. The Governor also announced he has prostate cancer, but expects to finish the last two years of his term. At week’s end, the Governor signed legislation providing MNsure premium relief.
This week, committees began focusing on the Governor’s budget. This work will continue into next week.
Governor Dayton released a $45.8 billion biennial budget focusing on tax relief for families, job growth and creation, and strong infrastructure investment. The budget also contained environment and education proposals. Highlights of the budget include:
- Tax Relief for Working Families: Governor Dayton proposes broadening the Working Family Tax Credit to an additional 107,000 families. This proposal costs approximately $93.2 million. Governor Dayton also proposes continuing the Minnesota Angel Tax Credit which puts money into new technology start-up companies. This proposal costs approximately $10 million.
- Capital Investment: The state of roads, bridges and other infrastructure in Minnesota is a priority of Governor Dayton’s capital investment proposal. The proposed budget would repair or replace 1,700 miles of roads and 235 bridges. Over 40 percent of the revenue would go directly to local cities, counties and townships. The Governor does not want to fund these projects solely through the general budget. Instead, he wants to come to an agreement on a long-term, comprehensive transportation solution. Other capital investment priorities include repair money for Minnesota’s public colleges and universities.
- Environment: Governor Dayton’s budget proposes supporting Minnesota’s natural resources and outdoor recreation through both modest fee increases and general fund contributions for replanting forests, upgrading DNR technology and focusing on water resources. The proposed fee increase and general fund contribution will provide the maintenance and staff to uphold Minnesota’s expectations for state parks. Funding is also planned to be taken from the Clean Water Fund to prevent overuse of ground water while advising local government regarding water pollution management and prevention.
- Education: Governor Dayton proposed increasing funding for all forms of education. In early education, he is investing an additional $75 million to expand the voluntary pre-k program and $60 million in tax cuts for child care costs. In K-12, the Governor proposed a $609 million increase to invest in teachers and schools. A proposed $62 million would go to the State Grant Program and $125 million would support career readiness at Minnesota State campuses.
MNsure Premium Relief Signed into Law
The House and Senate conference committee resolved their differences regarding providing MNsure premium relief to 120,000 Minnesotans. Both sides compromised throughout the joint committee, but yesterday DFLers continued to express discontent regarding for-profit HMO’s into the state for the first time in 40 years. Continuation of care is included in this bill, allowing those who would lose coverage to continue treatment with a doctor if they have serious medical condition. This package costs approximately $310 million. The Governor signed the bill on Thursday.
Metropolitan Council Overview
The House Transportation and Regional Governance Policy committee received an overview from the Met Council of their two primary roles: planning and transit operations. Metropolitan areas of 50,000 or more are required by federal law to have a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and maintain a 20 year transportation plan. The MPO has continued to expand outside the seven county metro, but their authority resides solely within those counties. Projects funded by the Met Council start at the local level and include many opportunities for public input. A number of proposals reforming the Met Council have already been introduced and others are anticipated.
The Agriculture Policy Committee heard HF259 eliminating cost-share requirement for schools receiving a tractor rollover protection grant. This was passed to the Committee on Agriculture Finance. This bill creates a safer, hands-on learning environment for students and positions the state for a farm safety standard, where it is currently lacking in relation to other states. Rural high schools will not have to pay for these roll over bars, whereas in the past they were expected to pay up to 30 percent, or up to $500.
Committee deadlines have been agreed to and were announced on Thursday. They are:
- First Deadline- Friday, March 10, 2017:
- All policy committees must act favorably on bill in House of origin.
- Second Deadline- Friday, March 17, 2017:
- All policy committees must act favorably on bills or companions of bills that met first deadline in the other chamber.
- Third Deadline- Friday, March 31, 2017:
- Committees to act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills.
The deadlines do not apply to the House Committees on Capital Investment, Ways and Means, Taxes, or Rules and Legislative Administration, nor to the Senate committees on Capital Investment, Finance, Taxes, or Rules and Administration.
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