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Jobs conferees start work

Published (4/29/2011)
By Nick Busse
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House and Senate conferees reviewed the differences in their respective versions of the omnibus jobs and economic development finance bill April 26, but took no action.

In their abbreviated first meeting, conferees went over a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate language for HF1049/ SF887*, sponsored by Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) and Sen. Geoff Michel (R-Edina).

The bill would provide biennial funding for state-supported housing and workforce-related programs. Affected agencies include the Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Housing Finance Agency, the Department of Labor and Industry and several smaller agencies.

Both versions of the bill would reduce General Fund spending in these areas significantly, but would also make up for much of the cuts with one-time transfers from dedicated funds. In total, the House proposes spending $232.7 million from all funds, while the Senate proposes $215.4 million. Gov. Mark Dayton proposed $252.4 million in spending.

A key difference between the House and Senate proposals is the amount of money that would be transferred from an Iron Range trust fund into the General Fund. The House plan would take $60 million out of the Douglas J. Johnson Economic Protection Trust Fund, while the Senate would take $45 million. The Senate plan would also pay the money back, with interest, beginning in 2015.

Other key differences include House proposals to boost spending for four DEED programs: services for the blind, rehabilitation services, the Minnesota Investment Fund and the Redevelopment Grant Program. The Senate language does not include the funding increases.

No date has been set for the next meeting.

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