The Legislature re-passed three budget-related bills during a special session Friday and early Saturday morning that Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed after the regular session adjourned in May.
The House and Senate both once again provided final approval on finance bills pertaining to K-12 education, jobs/energy and agriculture/environment. This time, the governor enacted those revamped portions of the budget, putting the final pieces in place on the state’s new two-year plan.
Dayton also enacted a bill appropriating $540 million in Legacy Amendment revenue and a $180 million capital investment bill. One notable provision in the latter provides $23 million for flood prevention and disaster relief.
“It is good to see a finished product in place,” said Rep. Bob Vogel, R-Elko-New Market. “This is the definition of compromise with split powers at the Capitol. I think we all walked away pleased with some things we passed and disappointed in some others that stalled along the way. The overall result is a good one.
“After running a small business for 40 years, I know how dysfunctional this process can appear, but knowing there will be more than $75 billion changing hands through the state’s treasury in the next two years, it gives me sufficient reason to be methodical in the legislation that defines how it is spent.”
Although there were changes from the bills the governor vetoed, in the end they were not that much different overall. Vogel said that helped things move along fairly well in the one-day special session. One key revision is in the K-12 package, which increases funding by $125 million over what the Legislature passed the first time. That provides schools with funding increases of 2 percent in each 2016 and 2017.
Education provisions that specifically benefit the people of the District 20 area include additional funding to help school districts maintain their facilities, and reform to address teacher shortages in Greater Minnesota.
The jobs/economic development bill includes unemployment assistance to workers impacted by layoffs on the Iron Range and also to farmers damaged by the statewide avian influenza outbreak. Funding also is provided to address a shortage of workforce housing in Greater Minnesota and to conduct internships and job training programs. A $10.6 million appropriation to improve broadband access in Greater Minnesota also is included in the bill.
A top provision in the agriculture/environment package is $23 million to combat the avian influenza outbreak that as ravaged Minnesota’s turkey industry.