Given a budget target of almost $987.39 million in General Fund spending, the omnibus state government finance bill would spend every last dollar.
Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) sponsors HF1935 as amended with a delete-all and a sponsor amendment. It calls for a nearly $102.53 million increase over base; $13 million more than the budget proposed by Gov. Tim Walz.
The House State Government Finance Division, which Nelson chairs, received a bill walkthrough and heard from representatives of some affected parties Monday. Public testimony is scheduled to continue at 8 a.m. Tuesday before the division reconvenes at 3 p.m. to consider amendments and vote on the bill.
Among its increase. the House bill calls for a $24.1 million increase for MN.IT services, a 449.8 percent base increase, yet $500,000 less than the governor’s request. Enhancements to cybersecurity across state government would be funded with $20 million of the total. The remainder is “to expand the state information technology project portfolio and project management oversight across state government.”
Other changes include an additional $8.92 million for Minnesota Management and Budget (17.2 percent increase), of which $5.5 million would be for system security and risk management and nearly $2.04 million is “to support enhanced sexual harassment prevention activities, to support the Office of Inclusion and Equity, to fund state workforce recruitment activities, and to implement a statewide compensation study.”
The Department of Administration would receive an additional $5.3 million (a 10.9 percent bump), including $1.6 million for Minnesota Census 2020 mobilization, and an extra $700,000 would go to for the governor’s office (9.7 percent increase) to create an Office of Public Engagement.
The state’s four ethnic councils — Minnesotans of African Heritage, Latino Affairs, Asian Pacific Minnesotans and Indian Affairs — would receive an additional $2.27 million combined, with increases ranging from 31.7 to 89.8 percent.
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The House budget would increase by $11.5 million in the biennium, or 17.8 percent. That is due primarily to an increase in member salaries established by the Legislative Salary Council. It recently raised legislator salaries to $46,500 effective July 1, 2019. Members earned $31,140 until the council raised that to $45,000 in 2017.
With an aim of making state elections safer and more accessible to all Minnesotans, much of the omnibus elections bill has been rolled into the omnibus state government finance bill. Ensuring a complete and accurate U.S. Census count is also a goal.
“Civic engagement is not a spectator sport in Minnesota,” Nelson said in a statement upon release of the omnibus package. “We consistently lead the nation in voter participation and stand on a strong history of ensuring every Minnesotan is included and counted in our society. Our proposal reflects a continued commitment to upholding those fundamental values.”
Among the nearly two-dozen proposed changes would be the restoration of voting rights to people who have been convicted of a felony once they complete their incarceration. Currently, those rights are not restored until all of a sentence, including probation, is concluded.
According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, felons receive the OK to vote upon release from prison in 14 states and the District of Columbia.
Also included would be a way for Minnesotans to be automatically registered to vote when applying for a Minnesota driver’s license, state identification card, or learner’s permit. The secretary of state’s office would still review an application to ensure someone is eligible to cast a ballot.
Other proposed changes would:
State government operations
The bill proposes to make changes in the way state government operates in myriad areas including commission extensions, honorary flags, hair braiding, horse racing, ice arenas, legislative and local government accessibility and retirement funding.
Included changes would:
What’s in the bill?
The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus state government finance bill: