For more information contact: Bennett Smith 651-296-6422
On Monday we will begin the final week of the 2016 legislative session. Much of the activity has now moved to conference committees, where select Senate and House members are comparing the differences of the major finance bills and trying to reach compromise so legislation can pass both bodies of the legislature.
Since my last update, the House passed the majority's omnibus education bill. It's important to note that last year, the increase in state funding for the current biennium didn't keep pace with inflation plus pupil growth. Unfortunately, the bill by the House wouldn't do anything to help, nor would it help address the parallel pattern for higher education. Despite a $900 million state budget surplus, both E-12 education and higher education received budget targets from the majority of $0.
The majority's omnibus bill addressing the environment, agriculture, jobs, housing, and energy varies from cuts to small increases, but in general the bill continues the pattern of missed opportunities, most notably with respect to clean power, environmental protection, and racial disparities.
Yet another "super-omnibus" bill, the health, human services, state government finance, and public safety received a $0 budget target, or were targeted for cuts. In addition to defunding Planned Parenthood and ending Minnesota's health-care exchange MNsure (among many other harms), this bill too misses many opportunities, including support for families struggling with child care, support for home and community-based health workers, and much more.
This still leaves transportation, taxes, and capital investment (bonding) as unresolved, with no real action so far this session. The legislative session is constitutionally mandated to end on May 23. We'll need to see some sense of compromise from the majority soon.
It’s my hope that the legislature and Governor can work together to make this a productive session for Minnesotans. My priorities continue to be:
To help keep track of all the moving parts in the final week of the legislative session, you can always check House Public Information Services here. They do a great job of providing a summary of bills and votes with no partisan slant.
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