ST. PAUL – The Legislature re-passed three budget-related bills during a special session Friday and early Saturday that Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed after the regular session adjourned in May.
The House and Senate both once again provided final approval on finance bills pertaining to K-12 education, jobs/energy and agriculture/environment. This time, the governor enacted those revamped portions of the budget, putting the final pieces in place on the state's new two-year plan.
He also signed bills appropriating $540 million in Legacy Amendment revenue and a $180 million capital investment bill. The latter includes funding to address persistent high-water issues south of Perham.
"It was disappointing the governor vetoed three of the budget bills, but it is good the pieces appear in place for the next biennium," said Rep. Bud Nornes. "The finished product includes some things I support and some things I oppose. That's life where compromise is involved and, with split powers at work in St. Paul, we can be happy with the results. I am pleased relief for the McDonald Lake area was passed."
Changes from bills Dayton vetoed to the revised ones he enacted are more isolated than wholesale. One key revision is in the K-12 package, which increases funding by $125 million over what the Legislature passed the first time. That provides schools with funding increases of 2 percent in each 2016 and 2017.
Provisions which specifically benefit Greater Minnesota include additional funding to help school districts maintain their facilities, and reform to address teacher shortages in rural regions.
The jobs/economic development bill includes unemployment assistance to workers impacted by layoffs on the Iron Range and also to farmers damaged by the statewide avian influenza outbreak. Funding also is provided to address a shortage of workforce housing in Greater Minnesota and to conduct internships and job training programs. A $10.6 million appropriation to improve broadband access in Greater Minnesota also is included in the bill.
A top provision in the agriculture/environment package is $23 million to combat the avian influenza outbreak which as ravaged Minnesota's turkey industry.