Thursday, February 19, 2009

Impact of federal stimulus bill on Minnesota

The Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy listened to an update yesterday on the status and process of the federal stimulus bill and its applicability to Minnesota. Lawmakers heard from Tom Hanson, the Commissioner of Management and Budget, about the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The next state forecast is scheduled come out March 5. Lawmakers pushed Hanson on when the governor’s supplemental budget proposal will come out and what will be in the budget. Hanson informed lawmakers that it will be a fair, communicative process in spending the federal dollars; many details are still unknown but his office is meeting with the Minnesota federal delegation to wade through the details, and a core group of agency heads has also been formed to work with Hanson.

Commission Chair, Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said she is interested in hearing from agencies in the coming weeks on "shovel-ready" projects. Kelliher said she would like the executive branch and legislative branch to work together as much as possible to maximize the federal dollars, and she emphasized the importance that allocation of the stimulus money be transparent and has a strict audit control. In regards to timing, Kelliher said, "We are going to have to sprint to the end to make a May 18 adjournment date."
The Senate E-12 Education Budget and Policy Division also met yesterday to discuss the education portion of the federal stimulus package. How the education funding in the stimulus bill will be allocated is still unclear, however, Deputy Commissioner Chas Anderson, with the Department of Education, said the federal stimulus bill will allocate $53.6 billion in education funds to the states, and approximately $821.4 million will be made available to Minnesota. We will continue to update you as more becomes known over the next couple weeks.

At the Capitol:
Legislative schedules are available for the House and Senate.

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