Friday, March 12, 2010

Bonding bill heads to governor's desk; Higher education budget set

Yesterday at the Capitol

The House and Senate both passed the $1 billion bonding bill yesterday. During the floor debate, House Majority Leader Rep. Tony Sertich , DFL-Chisholm, said that the bill provides money for higher education to give students quality facilities, and said this is important as more Minnesotans are seeking retraining.

Capital Investment Chair Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said the bill is about vision. Specific to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, Hasuman said, "Someone with no vision sees a wind turbine, but someone with vision sees we are going to train wine turbine workers in Canby." The bonding bill passed the House on a vote of 89-44.

Shortly after, the Senate took up the bill and passed it 49-17. The legislation now moves to the governor’s desk, where he is expected to make some line-item vetoes to the bill. He has not publicly stated how much he will cut, however, in the past, he has mentioned he would like the bill to be near $725 million.

On the budget side, the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division rolled out their omnibus finance bill yesterday afternoon. After a short recess to review the bill, committee members returned later in the evening, amended it and passed the bill by a roll call vote of 13-4. The bill, HF 1835, was referred to the full Finance Committee where it will be combined with other supplemental budget bills this afternoon.

The bill as passed out of committee last night has not been posted as of yet, however you may find the spreadsheet here.

Specifically the bill reduces the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system $10.467 million, which brings the system to the 2006 budget level. $3 million of this reduction is to come from the Office of the Chancellor and the remaining $7.467 is to be cut from the 32 institutions.

The bill also includes credit transfer language that requires the Board of Trustees to develop and maintain a systemwide effective and efficient mechanism for seamless student transfer between system institutions that has a goal of minimal loss of credits for transferring students. The language states that the Degree Audit and Reporting System (DARS) and database (or successor databases) housed within the Office of the Chancellor shall by the official repository of course equivalencies between system colleges and universities. The system is also to report by Feb. 15, 2011 and annually thereafter through 2015, on the activities to achieve the credit transfer goals.

The bill also increases the revenue fund authority for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities from $200 million to $275 million, and for 2010 and 2011, limits the revenue fund to only the state university projects. As a reminder, the Senate bill increases the authority in statute from $200 million to $300 million and does not specify in language who is eligible for use.

Also in the bill is language for a pilot project for 8 colleges and universities in the system to transfer certain reserve deposits from the state treasury to a community financial institution in order to increase the distribution of potential economic benefits. Minnesota Management and Budget and the Board of Trustees are to independently evaluate the effectiveness or harm of the local deposit pilot project in increasing the use of community financial institutions and providing wider distribution of the economic benefit of the deposit of postsecondary reserves. The evaluation is to include recommendations on the future implementation of the pilot project.

Related to financial aid, the original bill distributed by the committee earlier in the afternoon included language for an income tax surtax in order to make up the $42 million state grant shortfall and not have to cut the state grant program, something committee members indicated has never been done. Later in the evening, an amendment was adopted that removes the surtax language and addresses the state grant shortfall by eliminating eligibility for a 9th semester, eliminating the summer transition program and eliminates the Achieve program. The bill also sets the tuition maximum for FY 2012 for two-year programs and for students in private, for-profit, four-year programs at $5,364. The reductions to financial aid in the bill do not completely address the $42 million state grant shortfall, there is an approximately $20 million gap that will still need to be addressed.

Chair Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia and other committee members expressed their regret at having to cut the state grant program and indicated they had hoped they could have done more for the students and higher education. Chair Rukavina said higher education has taken a heavy hit over the years and government should be investing in people, not cutting. Rep. Mike Obermueller, DFL-Eagan, said cutting the state grant program is doing a disservice to the state and students.

There were two amendments related to the system that were adopted and incorporated into the bill last night. Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, successfully amended the bill to include language that the central system office is established to provide central support to the institutions enrolling students and to assist the board in fulfilling its mission, but must not assume responsibility for services that are most effectively and efficiently provided at the institution level. The system office is to coordinate system level responsibilities for financial management, personnel management, facilities management, information technology, credit transfer, legal affairs, government relations and auditing. Language also includes a requirement of no duplication between the system office and the institutions.

A second amendment also offered by Rep. Poppe and was adopted includes language on the appropriation reductions for the Office of the Chancellor. Any reduction made to the system office must not be passed through to any institution or campus and the Board of Trustees must not charge any institution for appropriation reductions made the Office of the Chancellor.

Today at the Capitol

10:00 AM
Senate State and Local Government Operations and Oversight
Room: 123 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Ann H. Rest
S.F. 2594-Kubly: City or county owned hospital employees salary reporting requirements exemption.
S.F. 2641-Kubly: Coyote (Canis latrans) conflict management option for counties and towns authorization.
S.F. 2953-Olson, G.: City council members employment by city prohibition.
S.F. 2199-Olson, G.: Legislature size reduction and senate district division prevention.
S.F. 2585-Higgins: Disadvantaged business enterprise program creation.
S.F. 3073-Sheran: People with disabilities state programs and services effectiveness report request from the consortium for citizens with disabilities.
S.F. 2586-Murphy: Constitutional amendment for temporary successors to members of the legislature called into active military service.
S.F. 2741-Murphy: Driving while impaired (DWI), implied consent and ignition interlock provisions modifications.
S.F. 2738-Torres Ray: Special school district #1, Minneapolis to appoint members to the redistricting commission; redistricting commission to set standards for boundaries of the school board districts.
S.F. 3075-Tomassoni: Joint powers agreements interference with the rights of employees covered by collective bargaining contracts prohibition.
S.F. 2908-Doll: State-county results, accountability and service delivery reform act modifications.
S.F. 2756-Kelash: Overdimensional load escort drivers traffic control authority and commissioner of public safety to escort driver training and certification program establishment.
S.F. 3115-Dibble: Minneapolis mobile food units duration of operation restriction authority.
S.F. 3014-Saltzman: Minnesota Science and Technology Authority Act.
S.F. 3041-Gerlach: Constitutional amendment to authorize the membership of the state canvassing board to be provided by law.
S.F. 160-Pappas: Election candidates and campaign workers multiple unit residences access authority.
S.F. 2957-Rest: Hennepin county board of commissioners energy purchase under forward pricing mechanisms authorization.
S.F. 2573-Betzold: Retirement provisions modifications.
S.F. 3084-Carlson: Professional or technical services contract reporting threshold reduction.
S.F. 3096-Robling: State owned buildings disposal process.
S.F. 2762-Olseen: State contracts with vendors convicted of fraud prohibition.

1:00 PM
House Finance
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Lyndon Carlson
HF802 (Murphy) Hospital root cause analysis requirements clarified, Minnesota Board of Nursing investigations clarified, and hospital payment for certain hospital-acquired conditions and treatments prohibited.
HF1671 (Carlson) Labor or employee organizations provisions modified.
HF2591 (Lieder) Local bridge funding provided, bonds issued, and money appropriated.
HF3015 (Murphy) Film production cost reimbursement provided.
HF3438 (Juhnke) Veteran home appropriation designation removed.
HF1354 (Clark) Nonprofit housing bonds authorized, and money appropriated.
HF1741 (Hilty) Cromwell; energy-efficient furnace and light bulb funding provided, and money appropriated.
HF2314 (Wagenius) Natural resources, Water and Soil Resources, and Pollution Control Agency funding provided to post budgets on Web sites.
HF1270 (Paymar) Short-term offender pilot project development required, county of community corrections departments authorized to develop pilot-project for short-term offender commitments, and reports provided.
HF3449 (Kahn) State government programs or activities money appropriated or reduced, and provisions changed relating to expenses of governor-elect, income earned by the permanent school fund, lease-purchase agreements, general services, resource recovery, payment of aids and credits to school districts, tax return preparers, and implied consent.
HF1835 (Haws) State grant program's living and miscellaneous expense allowance set.
HF3492 (Hausman) Higher education asset preservation and replacement funding provided, bonds issued, and money appropriated.

**HF1671 (Carlson) will be the supplemental budget bill. The following bills will be incorporated into HF1671:
and HF1835

1:00 PM
House K-12 Education Policy and Oversight
Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Carlos Mariani
Agenda: HF3421 (Mariani) High school assessments established to determine college and career readiness.

Looking Ahead

Monday, March 15

9:00 AM
Senate Taxes
Room: 15 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Tom Bakk
Agenda: 2010 Supplemental Budget

11:00 AM
Senate in Session

1:00 PM
House in Session

Tuesday, March 16

8:30 AM
Senate Education
Room: 112 Capitol
Chair: Sen. LeRoy A. Stumpf
S.F. 2757-Bonoff: Teaching board teacher preparation and licensure programs authorization.
S.F. 3104-Saltzman: School and parent conciliation conference requirements clarification.
S.F. 2698-Koch: Graduation required assessment for diploma (GRAD) retake requirement modification.
S.F. 3002-Bonoff: School desegregation and integration advisory task force establishment.

2:45 PM
House Capital Investment Finance Division
Room: Basement State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Alice Hausman
Agenda: Discussion on bonding policy issues

Thursday, March 18

8:30 AM
House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Gene Pelowski
Agenda: HF2952 (Murphy) State employees retirement plan contribution rates increased,
interest rates on refunds and certain benefit accrual rates reduced, vesting requirements and early retirement reduction rates increased, and certain amortization periods extended.
HF3281 (Murphy) Volunteer fire relief associations technical corrections made, break-in-service return revised, Minnesota deferred compensation plan service pension transfers authorized, payout defaults revised in survivor benefits, and corrections of certain special fund deposits authorized.
Recommendations from the Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement.

2:45 PM
House K-12 Finance
Room: 10 State Office Building
HF3043 (Kalin) Computer-adaptive assessments provided for general education students.
HF3267 (Newton) Advisory task force established on school desegregation and integration.
HF3163 (Mariani) Prekindergarten through grade 12 funding provided, including general education, education excellence, special programs, and early childhood education.

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