City prepares for a special session
The Minnesota Legislature adjourned its regular session Monday, May 18, per the constitutional deadline. However, because a number of important bills were not completed – and some were vetoed – lawmakers will need to head into a special session.
A surplus of nearly $2 billion was projected for the State’s upcoming budget cycle, which set the stage for lawmakers and Gov. Dayton to decide on levels of appropriations for existing budget areas, while also determining whether and how to spend the surplus revenues.
The Minnesota House and Senate completed much of their work, including passage of major funding bills for State government, higher education, public safety, and health and human services. However, there were a number of bills that were not completed, including a tax bill, a legacy funding bill, a comprehensive transportation funding bill and a bonding bill. Dayton also vetoed three budget bills: education, jobs and economic development, and environment and agriculture budget bills.
Dayton says he will call the Legislature into a special session so lawmakers can complete their work, but the date has not yet been set. The Legislature and the governor must pass a balanced budget by July 1, 2015, to avoid a government shutdown.
Below are a number of items Minneapolis leadership will be watching closely during the special session.
- Jobs and economic development: The Legislature will have to pass a jobs bill, which is the area of funding that supports Minneapolis youth employment programs.
- Agriculture and environment: Since Dayton vetoed the agriculture and environment bill, some items such as pollinator protection and urban agriculture will be on the table for discussion.
- Bonding: The Senate passed a small bonding bill at the last minute, but time ran out before the House could consider it. Minneapolis has requested capital investment dollars to rehabilitate the 10th Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River, reconstruct stormwater tunnels under Interstate 35W North and restore the historic fence at the Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery.
- Tax bill: Before the Legislature adjourned, the Tax Conference Committee was working toward an agreement on tax issues including Local Government Aid funding. The House bill proposed cutting Minneapolis’ share of Local Government Aid by $34 million in 2016, while the Senate proposed increasing the appropriation for all cities that receive it. The conference committee did not complete its work reconciling the two bills, and a final tax bill did not pass. Although the Legislature does not need to pass a tax bill in order to continue collecting revenue to fund the State, City leaders will be watching to see if any tax-related bills are brought up during the special session.
- Transportation: Although the Legislature passed a “lights on” transportation bill to ensure transportation funding stays at current levels, we will be watching to see if there is any movement toward a comprehensive transportation and transit funding package – an important priority for the City of Minneapolis – during a special session.
- Legacy: The House passed a bill containing funding for items such as parks and trails and historic preservation, but time ran out before the Senate could consider it. There is funding in this area that helps the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
- K-12 education: This is an ongoing sticking point in negotiations between Dayton and the Republican-controlled House. The governor would like to see investment in universal pre-K programs for all 4-year-olds, while the House prefers targeted early learning scholarship funding.
Published Jun 2, 2015