All but a handful of state-funded jobs and housing programs would see their funding reduced, under the omnibus jobs and economic development finance bill headed for Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.
Sponsored by Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) and Sen. Geoff Michel (R-Edina), HF1049/ SF887* would provide biennial funding for the Housing Finance Agency, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Department of Labor and Industry and a number of smaller agencies.
The House voted 71-61 on May 19 to re-pass the bill as amended by conference. It now goes to the governor. The Senate re-passed it 37-27 on May 17.
The bill’s net impact to the General Fund would be $138.2 million — a 17.8 percent reduction from base funding. Most programs would be reduced, with a few exceptions. The bill would infuse $2 million of new money in the first year of the biennium into vocational rehabilitation services, in order to leverage more federal dollars to help the disabled. The Housing Trust Fund, which funds rental assistance, would also get a $2 million boost. Finally, State Services for the Blind would get an extra $150,000.
The bill would reform the way grant money is distributed through DEED to nonprofit organizations that perform workforce and business development. Beginning in fiscal year 2013, the current system of “earmarking” would end. In its place, a series of three new competitive grant programs would be established: one for business developments, one for adult workforce development, and another for youth workforce development.
“This innovation will drive nonprofit organizations that receive state funding to provide the best return on our investment,” Gunther said.
Though the organizations currently funded by DEED via pass-through grants would be able to compete for grant money under the new system, overall funding for these budget areas would be reduced. Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Mpls) voiced concern about the impact of the cuts on particularly youth-oriented job training programs.
“This is one of those huge missed opportunities,” Clark said.
Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-Mpls) said the bill overall would be bad for programs that help Minnesotans become productive members of the middle class. He said he blamed Republican leaders, not Gunther.
“I realize you had a lot of problems trying to figure out what you could do with what you got,” Mullery said.
The bill also contains nearly $16.3 million in proposed one-time transfers from special accounts into the General Fund. It no longer contains a proposed transfer from the Douglas J. Johnson Economic Protection Trust Fund — that provision was removed in conference committee and is contained in the omnibus tax bill (HF42).
Minnesota Index: Jobs, jobs, jobs
Facts and statistics on employment in Minnesota.
(view full story) Published 3/30/2012
Jobs and housing bill vetoed
Plan would have reformed how DEED distributes grant money
(view full story) Published 7/15/2011
It’s a tough job, but…
Little enthusiasm expressed for ‘jobless jobs bill’
(view full story) Published 4/8/2011
No easy job
Jobs and economic development bill sparks controversy
(view full story) Published 3/25/2011
A smaller slice of the government pie
Lawmakers debate downsizing the state’s workforce
(view full story) Published 1/28/2011
Minnesota Index: State employment
Figures and statistics on employment in Minnesota
(view full story) Published 1/14/2011