Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Governor vetoes budget balancing bill; House passes K-12 legislation

As we countdown the final days of session, there will be a different format to the daily updates, because other than floor sessions and conference committee meetings, it's now about how to solve the remaining budget deficit. Both the House and Senate are scheduled to go into session at 11:00 this morning.

As expected, the governor vetoed the budget balancing bill yesterday that was passed by the House and Senate Monday. The veto letter submitted to legislative leadership says the tax increase would disproportionately harm small business owners and hamper job creation in the state. Gov. Pawlenty also said the bill does not do enough to address a projected nearly $5 billion deficit for the 2012-2013 biennium. See the veto letter here.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a written statement that Pawlenty "can't keep pushing this problem away with his veto pen." Legislative leaders and the governor continue to meet behind closed doors to discuss the budget solution. In a meeting yesterday, House and Senate Republican leaders proposed a possible compromise. Under the plan, the Legislature would ratify the governor’s unallotments from last year. Some of the unallotments would be made permanent, while others would become only temporary reductions that would not carry into the next biennium.

House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, emphasized that tax increases are "off the table" as a possible budget solution. He said DFLers and Republicans need to agree on a way to solve the deficit without new revenue.

Negotiations will continue today. Lawmakers have until Monday to negotiate a new deal with the governor. The Minnesota Public Radio Web site includes a countdown to the end of session. If interested, you may find it here.

On the House floor yesterday, members passed the omnibus K-12 education bill by a vote of 86-47 just before midnight. HF 3833, sponsored by Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, was introduced late in the process and approved by the House Ways and Means Committee just late last week.

The bill was amended to remove a proposal to codify the shifts made by the governor through the unallotment process. Rep. Greiling said legislative leaders are negotiating a separate plan to address unallotments and repayment of the K-12 shifts.

In regards to the controversy surrounding alternative teacher licensure pathways, an amendment that would have reinstated an alternative teacher licensure provision from an earlier version of the bill, was defeated 65-68, after nearly two hours of heated debate. One member in opposition to the amendment was Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, who said it’s more important to draw new teachers into math and science teaching and interest more high-achieving students in traditional teacher preparation programs. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Stay tuned.

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