Tuesday found me in St. Paul at the year-end meeting of the Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission. Our charter is to advise the DNR on management of the school trust lands with a goal of maximizing revenue to our school districts.
Minnesota owns 2.5 million acres of school trust land with an additional one million acres of mineral rights. The property is held in trust for the state’s school districts. Many of those properties are currently under lease for mineral exploration and extraction, timber harvest and other revenue generating activities.
The commission heard and accepted the DNR’s annual report on forestry operations, which netted the trust $3.1 million in revenue for fiscal year 2016. That is down from the 2015 total, but above the five-year average of $2.1 million of annual forestry revenue.
The commission will meet early in 2017 to continue examining ways to increase revenue. The trust fund corpus currently stands at just over $1 billion. The interest and investment revenue generated by the fund is distributed annually on a per student basis to all school districts in the state.
Last week I mentioned the governor’s desire to replace some historic paintings that have been in place outside the governor's reception room and anteroom for over 100 years. Yesterday, I was pleased to learn the Minnesota Historical Society, by unanimous vote, decided the six historic civil war paintings will remain in place outside the Governor’s office. Gov.; Dayton was pushing to have these century-old works of art removed from their current location in the Capitol.
Lastly, there continues to be discussion of a special session that could take place before Christmas to address MNsure problems, provide tax relief and maybe do a relatively small bonding bill. As I hit the “send” button on this update, no decision on the fate of a special session has yet been announced.
The beginning of 90th legislative session is just over three weeks away so, special session or not, we will be back at the Capitol working on those issues very soon. I am happy to report we are making ice on area lakes. However, please be safe – it’s not yet thick enough for ice fishing.